Murderer convicted in drink-drive death of his brother
A CONVICTED murderer serving life in prison was yesterday convicted of dangerous driving causing the death of his brother.
Richard Higgins (42) pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death and driving under the influence of alcohol on February 9, 2009. At the time of the fatal crash, Higgins was disqualified from driving for another drink-driving charge.
Higgins, with an address in New Houses, Lattin, Tipperary, was sentenced in July to life in prison for the murder of his next-door neighbour.
He had denied the murder of father-of-two Sean Murphy (29) in a garden at his home following a fight on the night of January 17, 2010.
The jury also found Higgins guilty on two counts of threatening to kill the victim and his partner.
Yesterday, Limerick Circuit Court heard that Higgins was driving a Hiace van, with two more passengers, when he crashed into a truck being driven by a farmer in Bruff in February 2009.
The driver of the truck had pulled into a shop in Bruff, and was parked outside when he noticed a vehicle approaching from behind, which "he felt was travelling too fast", the prosecution told the court.
The defendant's brother, Jude Higgins, who was 10 years younger than him, died after sustaining severe head injuries in the crash.
An analysis of the defendant's blood showed 183mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which was more than twice the legal limit at the time.
Michael Collins, for the State, said Higgins did not have a good recollection of the events, "but expressed remorse and responsibility for the accident in which his brother died".
During an interview with gardai, Higgins said: "I am responsible for what happened that day. My brother would still be alive if it wasn't for me."
"He has a moral conscience, believe it or not," added Brendan Nix, for the defence.
Judge Carroll Moran said this was a "very tragic case" in which both the accused and the family have suffered, and he wished to offer the family his and the court's condolences.
"There is nothing I can do in passing sentence that's going to change things. It's very sad, and is an appalling tragedy," said Judge Moran.
Mr Higgins was banned from driving for three years in October 2008 on another drink-driving charge.
Judge Moran imposed a sentence of three years and disqualified him from driving for 20 years.