Sunday 22 September 2019

'We forgive you' - father tells van driver who killed six-year-old son

Four years in jail after he ran red light at crossing

Cian Marren
Cian Marren

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Sonya McLean

The father of a six-year-old boy who was killed after being struck by a van breaking a red light at a pedestrian crossing has told the driver his family forgives him.

James O'Brien (37) of Kilbogget Grove, Cabinteely, Dublin was jailed for four years after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Cian Marren.

It happened at Shanganagh Road, Shankill, Dublin, on July 28, 2017.

At a sentence hearing last week, the victim's father Liam read from his victim impact statement and told O'Brien that despite "the unbearable pain, hurt, suffering and anguish, and the life sentence of loss we are living, the one emotion we don't have is bitterness".

"We want James O'Brien to know that our son Cian forgives you," he said, before adding the rest of the family forgave him also.

He described seeing his son in a neck brace, unconscious but still breathing at the scene. He said paramedics told him his child was "very, very ill" and 20 minutes later a hospital consultant broke it to the family that there was nothing that could be done to save him.

Grief: Liam and Lisa Marren follow the hearse carring the remains of son Cian in 2017.
Grief: Liam and Lisa Marren follow the hearse carring the remains of son Cian in 2017.

"The shock and the terror was unbearable. Even though we were told there was no hope, we prayed for a miracle," Mr Marren said.

Garda Barry Cormack told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, that the child, his two sisters, then aged eight and 11 years old, and his aunt had been returning home to their granny's after a day out at the cinema and McDonalds.

He said the little boy had been anxious to press the pedestrian crossing button for the green man. Once the green man came up, he stepped out onto the road and was immediately struck by O'Brien's van.

O'Brien stopped his vehicle up the road and returned to the scene. He later met with Mr Marren there and apologised for the accident, saying he didn't see the red light.

Gda Cormack told Mr Finnegan that drink, drugs and mobile phone use were ruled out as contributory factors in the investigation. He said the weather had been bright and dry on the day.

In his victim impact statement Mr Marren said: "The person who suffered and lost most is our six-year-old son.

"He is the ultimate victim. He lost his life, his future, he lost his hopes and his dreams."

Judge Melanie Greally thanked him and extended her condolences.

O'Brien has 32 previous convictions at District Court level, including drink driving and a three-year ban from 2012.

Sentencing O'Brien yesterday at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Greally noted that Cian was struck within moments of stepping off the footpath and was left with fatal head injuries.

"He carried out to the letter all he had been taught to do before crossing the road," Judge Greally said before she noted Cian didn't leave the pavement until the green man illuminated.

The judge noted that the lights were red for three seconds before the accident and amber for three seconds prior to that, it was a straight stretch of road with which O'Brien was familiar, it was daylight and the driving conditions were good.

"It is impossible to say what passed through his mind in those three seconds," Judge Greally said before she noted that O'Brien was driving at 10km above the speed limit. She said this speeding was an aggravating factor.

She accepted he remained at the scene until both gardaí and emergency services arrived and expressed immediate concern for Cian.

Judge Greally accepted O'Brien is racked with remorse but said he had "unheeded a red light during which pedestrians have an expectation of being safe".

Irish Independent

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