The family of a dad of two killed when a van veered into the path of his motorcycle have criticised the suspended sentence the driver received as they urged road users to pay more attention.
Christopher Fitzgerald (53) was killed instantly when the vehicle being driven by Michael Dunne (66), from Mountmellick, Co Laois, crossed into his path on the Monasterevin to Portlaoise Road on August 17, 2018.
Mr Fitzgerald had been on his way home after visiting his daughter to drop off invitations for her wedding 11 weeks later.
He never had the chance to walk her up the aisle, and he will not be around for the birth of her baby boy, his first grandchild, who is due in October.
At Naas Circuit Court yesterday, Dunne got a two-year suspended sentence and a three-year driving ban, having pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.
Evidence was previously heard that an analysis of his phone showed he had two conversations on it in the minutes before the crash, but there was no evidence he was on the phone at the time of the incident.
Witnesses said the wide road was straight, the weather was good at the time, and there was no apparent reason why Dunne's van had crossed to the other side of the road.
There was no alcohol or drugs in Dunne's system, and speed was not a factor. He was not overtaking anyone either.
"It's not fair, It's terrible," said Christopher's wife June after the sentence was passed yesterday.
Speaking after the hearing, the Fitzgerald family said Christopher's death had been the hardest thing they have ever had to face.
"I'm angry over how I have lost him. I'm angry that he died on the road on his own without me.
"Life is very hard without him," said Christopher's daughter, also named June (33).
"Today marks the end of one of the chapters in this heartbreaking tragic story. A chapter that could have been avoided by someone simply slowing down and paying attention to the road in front of him," said June.
"Our dad always said it didn't matter how good of a driver you are, it's the other people on the road not paying attention you have to watch out for.
"The people on their phone reading text messages, writing text messages, posting social media stories, taking selfies or even doing their make-up while flying along.
"My dad saw it all as he drove a truck for a living and when he wasn't in his truck he was driving his motorbike or car.
"Never a truer word was spoken as he travelled home from work on his motorbike on August 17, 2018. A man crossed over the white line and mowed him off his bike, killing him instantly.
"We ask people to put down their mobile phone while driving, pay attention to the road and be more mindful of other road users.
"At the end of the day we all want to arrive alive and if the Government won't enforce laws and make changes so that this doesn't keep happening, we ask the public just to be more aware of what they are doing while driving so that people's lives are not ruined over stupid mistakes that could have been prevented."