Tuesday 21 November 2017

'It never ends': widow's grief as speeding driver is jailed

Elaine Keogh

A WIDOW of a man killed by a car doing over twice the legal limit appealed to all young drivers to think about the tragedy that speeding leaves in its wake.

"It never ends," said Marie Campbell, whose husband George was one of two men killed after being struck by Daniel O'Riordan (21) in the early hours of March 25, 2007.

O'Riordan -- who was yesterday jailed for five years at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court -- was driving a stolen Audi A4 when he hurtled straight into Mr Campbell's Renault Megane car at 131kmh as the 64 year old turned into the gateway of his home. He died instantly.

Yesterday, Mrs Campbell said she had been forced to move from her home after the accident. "I had to move, I couldn't stay in the house afterwards."

The accident happened on a section of the Dundalk to Carlingford Road where there is a 60kmh speed limit.

"I just hope that any young drivers who get into cars without insurance or that are stolen or whatever, that they think of the consequences of the speed they are driving at and the tragedy they leave in their wake. It is unreal and it never ends."

The other victim was 17-year-old David Keenan who was a passenger in the Audi and, according to O'Riordan, one of his "best and closest friends".

O'Riordan from Point Road, Bellurgan, Dundalk, had pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the deaths of the men. But, a jury, at the end of a six-day trial, returned unanimous guilty verdicts and a judge jailed him for five years.

After the accident, O'Riordan told gardai he bought the Audi for €500 cash and because of the price he knew it was a 'ringer'(stolen).

As a result of the crash and death of their son, the marriage of David's parents has broken down, Judge Matt Deery was told yesterday. The family had not approved of David socialising with O'Riordan.

After the judge passed sentence, David's father said: "The sentence doesn't matter to me, it won't bring David back.

"I think justice has been done and I would not like to see anyone or any family go through what we have," he added.

O'Riordan has 23 previous convictions including stealing cars, assault, possession of knives and robbery. He is currently serving a 20-month sentence imposed at Dundalk District Court.

Gda Sgt Seamus Walsh calculated the Audi to have been travelling at 131kmh immediately prior to the crash, but Dr Denis Wood, a forensic engineer, estimated it was travelling at a maximum of 101kmh.

Sgt Walsh said that if the car had kept to the speed limit, it would have stopped in time.

Judge Deery yesterday said the crash "had all the hallmarks of a high-speed collision", and he was satisfied O'Riordan had "sufficient opportunity" to avoid the impact. On the dangerous driving charge causing the two deaths, the judge imposed a five-year sentence, two years for possession of the stolen car and one year for using the car without the owner's permission. He banned O'Riordan from driving for 15 years.

He imposed fines for failing to report a fatal injury, failing to give gardai information, driving without insurance and driving without a licence. All sentences are to run concurrently and to start when his current 20-month jail term expires.

Irish Independent

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