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Woman died after drunk drove wrong way on M6

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Delia Flaherty

Delia Flaherty

Delia Flaherty

A DRUNK driver who crashed while travelling the wrong way down a motorway, killing herself and another driver, had deliberately evaded attempts by gardai and civilian drivers to stop her.

An inquest yesterday into the death of Delia Flaherty (33) found that she had been unlawfully killed.

The jury at Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Helen Gonoude crashed head-on into Ms Flaherty's car on the M6 outside Moate, Co Westmeath, on June 28 last year.

A previous inquest held in Offaly had heard that Ms Gonoude (66), from Killeigh in Offaly, was two-and-a-half times the legal limit at the time.

She was spotted travelling eastbound on the westbound motorway by a council worker. He attempted to stop her but she drove around him.

Gardai then tried to block her but she drove around them on the hard shoulder.

When she came to traffic that had stopped, Tommy Cregg drove right up to her bumper and attempted to block her several times before she managed to get around him.

Alcohol

An off-duty garda who had stepped out of her car to warn oncoming traffic of the danger banged on Mrs Gonoude's window but she was also ignored.

Ms Flaherty was on her way home from Dublin to Carraroe in Connemara, Co Galway, at the time of the incident. She could not have seen Mrs Gonoude's car coming toward her when she pulled into the fast lane to overtake another vehicle, the court heard. When the two vehicles collided, they were thrown into the air.

Jennifer Vignoles told the court that before losing consciousness Ms Flaherty opened her eyes wide and asked: "What is she after doing to me?"

She was taken to Tullamore General Hospital before being transferred to Beaumont, where she died three days later as a result of severe head injuries.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that given the enormity of the risk factors involved a verdict of death by accident would not do justice for Ms Flaherty.

The jury returned a verdict of death by unlawful killing and recommended that gardai be trained in creating road blocks.

Irish Independent