Sobbing bus driver jailed for three years after fatal road crash
A SOBBING bus driver yesterday expressed his "endless sorrow" as he was jailed for three years for a dangerous-driving incident in which a man was killed.
Father-of-two Sorin Dinu (45) said: "I want to express my endless sorrow for the unfortunate incident which caused his death. I don't know what happened, I am asking myself a thousand times what happened but there is no answer."
Elizabeth Finn, the partner of Cathal O'Leary (37), who was killed when a Bus Eireann coach careered across a roundabout and struck the top of the couple's 4x4 vehicle on February 23, 2009, said the world stopped for her on the day her "soulmate" died.
Dinu was sentenced to three years and given a 10-year driving ban. He had pleaded guilty to the dangerous driving charge on the fourth day of his trial at Trim Circuit Court earlier this year.
Sentence was adjourned until yesterday to allow time for the preparation of a probation report and victim impact statements from Ms Finn and Mr O'Leary's family.
Ms Finn told the court that they had talked of having a family and growing old together but now she could no longer go to the places they had gone together. She said she had suffered stress and trauma and had become withdrawn.
"I find it hard to concentrate and keep motivated and am attending weekly counselling. All I can see is what I lost: my best friend, my soulmate. I will never stop missing him," she said.
Lorraine O'Leary, the dead man's sister, said he had been a great son, brother and uncle and his death had left the family with an unbearable amount of pain.
"Our grief has been exacerbated by the media coverage of the trial, especially the television image of the crashed vehicles," she said.
Dinu, of Castlecurragh Heath, Mulhuddart, Dublin, had originally denied the charge but changed his plea.
The court heard that on the day of the accident, Mr O'Leary was driving to work in Dublin while Dinu was on his way to Enfield from Dublin to begin his 6.30am run to Dublin.
The court heard that the bus was approaching the roundabout at Johnstown just before 6.30am when it veered to the right on to the wrong side of the road, collided with the raised island in the centre of the roundabout, became airborne and its rear undercarriage struck the top of Mr O'Leary's SUV on the opposite side of the roundabout.
The court was told the tacograph in the bus showed it had been travelling at 75kmh as it entered the roundabout.
Dinu told gardai the brakes had failed to respond, but a subsequent inspection found the vehicle was in good mechanical order and the brakes were working properly.
A forensic examination of the scene found no sign of brake marks on the road.
His barrister said Dinu, who came to Ireland from Romania in 2002, had been under stress at work as he had been told he was to be made redundant and feared he would not be able to maintain his mortgage.
A psychiatric report indicated he may have fallen asleep at the wheel just before the accident, the barrister added.