Thursday 14 December 2017

Mum’s grief at no prosecution for driver who struck and killed her ‘precious’ 11-year-old daughter

Ray Managh

THE DPP turned down a grief-stricken mother’s appeal to prosecute a teenage learner driver alleged to have been under the influence of cannabis when his car collided with and killed her “precious” 11-year-old daughter, a judge heard earlier today.

Barrister Noel Cosgrove told the Circuit Civil Court that schoolgirl Cait Quinn was struck by a car driven by then 19-year-old Ronan Byrne of Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, Dublin, and suffered catastrophic injuries.

He said Cait had been crossing the road from a bus stop at Diswellstown Road, Castleknock, Dublin, on August 25, 2009, when struck by Byrne’s Nissan Pulsar car which he had been driving on a provisional licence.

Mr Cosgrove told Judge Gerard Griffin that Cait’s mother, Catriona Quinn, of Luttrellstown Walk, Castleknock, wished to read a brief tribute to her daughter from the witness box.

In it she said Cait was the very precious only daughter in the Quinn family of four and she and her husband, Paul, had almost lost her twice as a small baby.

“She was the love and joy of home and family and shone in all activities…musical, artistic and clever and a helpful and generous daughter,” a grieving Mrs Quinn told the court.

She said family and friends were awed at how capable Cait was at everything she did.

They would never forget her beautiful warm smile and would treasure the 11 years 11 months and four days of her short precious life.

“We will continue to miss her every second of every day for the rest of our lives,” a distraught Mrs Quinn said.

Mr Cosgrove told the court that Ronan Byrne, now aged 23, had been “driving on a provisional licence at excessive speed and while under the influence of cannabis” at the time.

“Regrettably there was no criminal prosecution of Mr Byrne which had created a difficulty for the parents,” Mr Cosgrove said. “Mrs Quinn had asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to review his decision but was unsuccessful.”

He said that while the DPP had reviewed his decision he had affirmed his earlier resolution not to prosecute.

The court heard that due to the positioning of the bus stop Dublin Bus had been sued, along with Mr Byrne, as a defendant but had been indemnified by Mr Byrne’s insurance company, Quinn Direct, and let out of the proceedings.

Mr Cosgrove said the proceedings, for legal reasons, had to be taken in the name of Cait’s aunt, Ms Anne Wearen, Beaverstown Lawns, Donabate, Co Dublin, as her personal representative.

He said Mr Byrne’s insurance company, without conceding liability in the case, had proffered a figure of €30,000 to cover some element of grief and loss and funeral expenses and he was recommending acceptance of the offer to the court.

Judge Griffin told Mrs Quinn it must have been very painful for her to read the tribute to her daughter.  He offered the Quinn family his and the court’s sincere condolences.

He said that while there would never be full closure for the family the finalisation of the proceedings gave some sense of closure. He had no hesitation in accepting and approving the €30,000 offer, close on the maximum amount payable under the Civil Liability Act.

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