Wednesday 21 August 2019

Man who broke red light at pedestrian crossing and flung girl (6) into the air is jailed for one year

Martin Joyce banned from driving for four years

Jennifer Casey (inset) and the crossing in Darndale where she was struck. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Jennifer Casey (inset) and the crossing in Darndale where she was struck. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Declan Brennan

A man who drove a car through a red light at a pedestrian crossing, flinging a girl into the air and breaking her leg has been jailed for a year and banned from driving for four years.

Martin Joyce (19) was previously convicted on June 29 last of failing to remain at the scene of an accident which took place on November 15, 2014.

A month after that accident Joyce broke a red light after exiting the Darndale roundabout on Dublin's Malahide Road and hit the six-year-old pedestrian with his van.

Joyce of Cromcastle Court, Kilmore, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Jennifer Casey at the Malahide Road, Coolock on the evening of December 17, 2014.

The child's mother Jennifer Squires was taking Jennifer and her brother Thomas to church where he was singing in the Christmas choir. The family had crossed the first set of lights and were waiting on a traffic island for the next set to go green.

When the lights went green Jennifer went on ahead. Ms Squires told gardai later that she then saw the green van come at speed from the roundabout and hit her daughter. The child went up into the air and landed on the van's bonnet.

The van then went over her. Ms Squires went over to her child and saw her eyes were closed and thought she was dead. Someone found the victim had a pulse and the Dublin Fire Brigade brought her to hospital.

The child's femur was fractured and she suffered abdominal injuries. Garda Jacinta Naughton told Pieter LeVert BL, prosecuting, that she has made a good recovery. She was in a wheelchair for weeks after the accident but the court heard that surgical nails would be removed from her bone in due time.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was a “gravely aggravating factor” that Joyce left the scene and said it was for this reason that he was imposing a custodial sentence.

The judge imposed a two year sentence with the final one suspended and disqualified Joyce from driving for four years from today.

A victim impact report written by Ms Squires stated that the child suffered nightmares and was afraid of the road. Her older brother also suffered nightmares about the accident.

The mother said her daughter doesn’t have any memory of the accident. She was in a wheelchair for number of weeks afterwards and in hospital for a week. She is now recovering very well physically.

The court heard the victim still suffers nightmares from the accident and didn’t want to stay in her bedroom on her own. She was also afraid of the road. She said Jessica's older brother Thomas suffered trauma and also suffered nightmares and anxiety as a result.

The mother said it was traumatic for herself and it broke her heart looking at her daughter's injuries. Ms Squires spent a week on the floor of the hospital while her daughter was being treated and she was five month pregnant at the time.

Investigators identified Joyce as a suspect from CCTV footage and two days after the accident the van was seized from outside his grandmother's home.

Three days later Joyce went to gardai and told them he had knocked the girl down. He said it was a genuine accident and that he had not been thinking straight since.

“I heard a bang. I didn't know whether I'd hit a person or a dog. I didn't know what to do,” he said. He said he learned from news report that he had hit a child and said he was quite upset.

In a letter to the court Joyce said: “I’m sorry, I’m truly sorry. I have to live with it for the rest of my life, it was a mistake”.

Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, accepted that speed was an aggravating factor in the case but did not accept that the speed was very excessive.

“If very excessive speed was a factor the injuries would have been far greater,” he said.

He presented positive employment references for his client to the court and said his client has demonstrated that he could make a positive contribution to society. He said there were dangers involved in putting a man in his position into custody.

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