Thursday 17 October 2019

Man who was over drink driving limit and had a 'severe lack of sleep' jailed over death of elderly mother in crash

Maureen Creaner (inset) died from her injuries sustained on Sunday morning
Maureen Creaner (inset) died from her injuries sustained on Sunday morning

Fiona Ferguson

A man whose dangerous driving due to inattention and tiredness caused the death of an elderly woman has been jailed for 14 months.

James Dingle (42) struck Maureen Creaner (92) with his jeep as she crossed the road to buy a paper at 8.15am on a Sunday morning, causing her “catastrophic injuries” which led to her death.

A garda at the scene noticed a smell of alcohol from Dingle and a test found him to be “barely” over the drink-driving limit. He told gardaí he had taken alcohol while socialising the night before.

Dingle had had a row with his partner the previous night and was driving to her house at the time of the crash.

Garda collision experts concluded that Dingle had been driving at 64kmph in a 50 kmph zone.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Dingle's phone activity was analysed and his usage in the early hours of the morning showed there was a “severe lack of sleep” on his part.

Maureen Creaner (92) was described as a lovely lady who had ‘wonderful positivity’
Maureen Creaner (92) was described as a lovely lady who had ‘wonderful positivity’

The prosecution told the court it could not be definitively said Dingle was on the phone at the time of the accident but that he was using the phone “very close” to the time of the incident.

Dingle, of Drumcliffe Road, Cabra, Dublin pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Mrs Creaner at Navan Road, Cabra on September 4, 2016.

David Creaner, Maureen's son, paid tribute to his mother in the family's victim impact statement.

He said Maureen had been a loving mother who provided “a loving, friendly and safe home” which was always open to family and friends.

He said his mother had lived through interesting times and had “92 years of stories” which they had just started recording the week prior to her death. He said they missed her for lots of reasons, including her good advice and inspiring attitude to life.

He said they wished to thank the emergency services and nurses at the Mater hospital who were with their mother in the moments before she died when they could not be there.

Mr Creaner said it was the family’s hope that as the lengthy legal process reaches a close, they could “begin to remember Maureen not as a victim but as our wonderful mother.”

Judge Martin Nolan said it seemed Dingle did not see Mrs Creaner or at least not see her in time.

He said most people who drive can be capable of inattention and the court had to assess Dingle's level of moral culpability in deciding if a custodial sentence was required.

Judge Nolan said Dingle knew he had drink taken the night before, knew he was tired and drove at a certain speed.

“These are things he had control over, made decisions about and must take responsibility for,” said Judge Nolan. “His inattention was contributed to by these factors.”

He noted in mitigation that Dingle had remained at the scene, co-operated with gardaí and made full admissions. He said testimonials handed into court on Dingle's behalf were impressive and it must be taken into account that he was a productive man.

Judge Nolan imposed 14 months’ imprisonment and disqualified Dingle from driving for four years.

Judge Nolan extended his condolences to the Creaner family, noting Maureen had lived a full and productive life and was sorely missed by her family.

“It is a tragedy for Maureen Creaner's family that they lost her in this way,” said Judge Nolan.

“She was entitled to die with dignity and did not die with the dignity she deserved.”

He told Dingle: “You are responsible for that, you made decisions on the morning and you should not have driven.”

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