Revealed: Several drivers avoided jail after being convicted of causing death
The analysis report prepared for a Courts Service sentencing committee detailed several examples of lenient sentences being imposed on motorists convicted of dangerous driving causing death or serious injury.
These included one where a motorist pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death while being twice the legal blood alcohol limit.
The motorist received a three-year suspended sentence and a 10-year driving ban. The judge took into account the driver's guilty plea, his previous good character and the attitude of the victim's family, which displayed "Christian charity" towards the accused.
In another case a lorry driver who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death after suffering a blackout and veering onto the wrong side of the road was fined €1,500 and disqualified from driving for eight years.
The Court of Criminal Appeal found that the fact the driver had received medical advice that he should not drive due to a risk of blackouts was an aggravating factor the trial judge did not take into account. But it still opted not to jail the driver, instead imposing a four-year suspended sentence.
In a further case a driver who lost control of her car, mounting a footpath and killing a young child, received a €500 fine and a three-year disqualification from driving. The judge took into account an early plea of guilt, the fact the driver was not speeding and that she was very distressed and remorseful. The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the sentence on the basis of undue leniency, but failed to have it varied by the Court of Criminal Appeal.
In another case a motorist was fined €1,500 and disqualified for two years after knocking down and seriously injuring a cyclist while overtaking traffic on the inside by driving in a bus lane. The cyclist sustained head injuries and bone fractures. The motorist had been speeding and was an unsupervised provisional licence holder.
The Court of Criminal Appeal held the sentence was unduly lenient, but the motorist still avoided prison.
The appeal court imposed a six-month suspended sentence and doubled the fine and the period of disqualification. In doing so, it took into account the motorist's previous excellent character and their lack of a previous record.
In another case a woman who knocked down and killed a cyclist was given 180 hours community service and disqualified for four years after the judge held the accused lived "in her own private hell" following the fatal incident.