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Family face 'life sentence' but hit and run driver is given 20 months

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 Ruadhan Tracey outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

Ruadhan Tracey outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

Ruadhan Tracey outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

AN ADDICT who was on his way to buy drugs when he fatally injured a 14-year-old boy in a hit and run has received a 20-month prison sentence.

Ruadhan Tracey (33), already jailed for other offences, will serve no extra time in prison for the hit and run incident that led to the death of second-year student Conor Hickey in 2011.

The teenager's family were at yesterday's sentencing hearing, with his mother Margaret weeping as the court was told how the decision was made to switch off his life-support machine when it was clear he would not recover.

His father, John, spoke of how the tragedy was "like a tsunami that hits a family".

The court heard how Tracey has 36 previous convictions and how last July, Judge Mary Ellen Ring imposed a 10-year jail term with two years suspended for a spate of armed robberies, one of which left a shop worker in need of 24-hour care after he was stabbed with a syringe.

These offences were carried out after the hit and run.

The maximum penalty available to the court for careless driving causing death is two years and the maximum penalty for leaving the scene of an accident is six months.

The 20-month term will run alongside the 10-year sentence, meaning Tracey will serve no extra time in prison.

As he was led away by prison officers, a member of the public shouted: "Shame on you, scumbag!"

When gardai arrested Tracey, of Lagore Green, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, two months after the hit and run he told them he knew it was because he had knocked the boy down, saying: "Conor Hickey, I will never forget that name."

CONSEQUENCES

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing the death of Conor at Fassaugh Road on December 2, 2011.

He also admitted a charge of failing to remain at the scene of that accident.

Judge Ring yesterday said she was bound by the legislation, and said she must also give credit to Tracey for entering a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and his genuine remorse expressed at a very early stage.

She said: "He has to live with the consequences of being a man who drove a vehicle which killed a boy. He wasn't even man enough to stay or present himself."

Tracey told gardai after his arrest that he had felt numb since he learned on the news that the boy died.

He claimed the lights were green and said: "I took my eye off the road for one second and then bang. I saw a shadow. I didn't think it was a person. I didn't see him at all. The first time I seen him I seen his face in the Evening Herald."

He told gardai he looked back and saw the commotion on the road but did not stop because he had no insurance and no tax on the car.

He said he had panicked and then went on to collect the drugs he had set out to collect in the city.

In his victim impact statement, Conor's father said: "Before December 2011, life for my family was very different and as close to perfect as you could get. Conor was in second year preparing for his Junior Certificate.

"It's impossible to describe the effects a tragedy like this has on a family. It's like a tsunami that hits a family. It takes everything away in a flash."

Conor's mother said she feels a pain in her chest which no pills can cure.

"No day goes by when I don't ask myself the question, 'Why, why did this happen?'" she said.

Conor's sister, Claire, wrote: "Conor wasn't just a brother but also my best friend. Since December 2, 2011 my life has changed forever. I've the biggest hole in my heart.

"No justice will return our Conor to his family. I feel we have a life sentence for the rest of our natural lives."

SORRY

After the life-support machine had been turned off, a post-mortem revealed that Conor died as a result of head injuries.

Padraic Dwyer SC, defending, said his client had a chronic drug addiction.

He said Tracey was sorry for the grief he has caused the Hickey family and if he could take back his actions he would.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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