Wednesday 18 July 2018

Visually impaired driver who killed woman (70) allowed go to son's First Communion before jail

David Byrne was sentenced to five years in prison
David Byrne was sentenced to five years in prison

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A visually impaired man who caused the death of a 70-year-old woman through dangerous driving has been allowed attend his son's First Communion before he is jailed for five years.

Postman David Byrne (42) was convicted in March following a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of dangerous driving causing the death of Patricia Dunne.

The court heard that Byrne has Type 2 Usher Syndrome, which is a degenerative eye disorder resulting in peripheral vision loss.

Yesterday Judge Patricia Ryan agreed to a request by ­Michael O'Higgins SC, ­defending, to allow Byrne attend his son's First Communion.

Byrne, who has no previous convictions, gave an undertaking in court promising to present himself at Mountjoy Prison on Monday morning to begin his five-year jail term.

Byrne (42), of Sunnyhill, ­Castlemartin Lodge, Kilcullen, Co Kildare, had pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Ms Dunne at Collins Avenue East, Killester in Dublin, on October 16, 2015.

The father-of-two had also pleaded not guilty to ­dishonestly inducing the National ­Driving Licence Service (NDLS) to issue him with a driving licence on September 30, 2014.

He had further denied making a false or misleading statement while taking out insurance on September 16, 2015. He was found guilty by a jury of all three charges.

At the sentence hearing last week, Ms Dunne's son read from his victim impact statement and said his family would never forgive Byrne.

John Dunne said Byrne had put them through two weeks of hell in court by not pleading guilty to the charge of ­dangerous driving causing death.

He said the family believed his mother's death was a factor in his father's death.

The trial heard that Ms Dunne had been walking home pulling a shopping ­trolley around midday when she began to cross the road.

A van slowed to allow her to cross, but Byrne's car then hit her and she was "flung up in the air" before the vehicle came to a stop.

Garda Pamela Dunne told Fionnuala O'Sullivan BL, ­prosecuting, that Byrne went to the Garda station the following day and gave consent to access his medical records.

He told gardaí he couldn't recall being advised not to drive in 1997.

In passing sentence yesterday, Judge Ryan extended her sympathies to the late Ms Dunne's family, saying that it had been inappropriate to do so before now.

She noted the aggravating factors in the case were that Byrne was driving a vehicle while suffering from his condition and he knew it was wrong. She said the mitigating factors were Byrne's co-operation, previous good record, remorse, his good standing in the community and the testimonials handed in on his behalf.

Irish Independent

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