Haulier sentenced for running over cyclist on the N22
A 49-YEAR-OLD North Cork haulier who failed to rectify 70 defects in his truck has been jailed for three years for driving over a cyclist who has been left paralysed as a result of the crash.
Tim Walsh from Moneen, Glanworth, had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious injury to Vincent O'Driscoll (31) on the main Cork-Macroom road last year.
This week at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Sean O Donnabhain said Walsh's failure to address the defects in his lorry, including a broken mirror, had had devastating consequences.
Garda Patrick O'Leary had earlier told how Mr O'Driscoll was cycling on the N22 two miles from Macroom on August 7, 2103 when Walsh knocked him off his bike as he overtook him
Walsh was driving a truck and trailer carrying 42 tonnes of lumber and witnesses said that the rear wheels of the trailer rolled over Mr O'Driscoll after he was knocked off his bike.
Mr O'Driscoll was rushed to Cork University Hospital and initially, he was not expected to live but he did survive the crash although he was now paralysed and his life changed utterly.
Garda O'Leary told the court that Walsh's truck had undergone a Department of Environment inspection some two months prior to the accident and some 70 defects had been identified.
These included defects in the braking system, the lighting system and mirrors, including a cracked near side mirror but Walsh, who owned the truck, did nothing to remedy them, he said.
Imposing sentence this week, Judge O Donnabhain said he knew the particular stretch of road well and for anyone to try overtaking there in any truck would be criminally negligent.
"But to do it in this truck with all these defects including brakes, lights and a broken mirror which restricted his view and had an impact in the collision simply beggars belief," he said.
Judge O'Donnabhain noted Mr O'Driscoll had commented in his Victim Impact Statement that the maximum sentence facing Walsh was ten years for the offence. And Mr O'Driscoll had observed that even if he got the maximum sentence, that was nothing compared to the sentence that he had been left to face as a result of Walsh's actions.
He recalled Mr O'Driscoll's hugely powerful Victim Impact Statement and it was clear that he was a happy vibrant man who went out for a cycle only for his life to be changed forever. In it, Mr O'Driscoll had listed the life-threatening injuries he suffered including a severed spinal cord, fractured pelvis, two broken hips, two broken legs and two broken ankles.
He also suffered liver failure, kidney failure, bowel damage and bladder damage as well as a minor head injury and a minor shoulder injury in the accident, the court heard.
Mr O'Driscoll said that every plan he ever had has changed, including one to have children with his fiancee, Karen.
"I am a forgiving person and I understand that accidents do happen but accidents like mine could easily be avoided with a bit of patience on the part of drivers," he said. "I think my accident specifically could have been avoided - I think the truck driver was reckless in relation to my safety - he didn't give me a chance," said Mr O'Driscoll who was a keen participant in triathlons.
Judge O Donnabhain noted that Walsh was under stress at the time of the accident as his brother had gone missing in the UK and was subsequently found to have taken his own life. And he also noted that he was the primary carer for his 16-year-old son who would suffer as a result of a custodial sentence but he felt he had no option but to impose such a penalty.
He sentenced Walsh to four years in jail but suspended the final year of the sentence and he disqualified him from driving for a period of 15 years