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Death driver flies home to serve jail time

THE father of two children knocked down and killed by a Dublin accountant in Budapest wanted to visit him in prison but felt it would be too stressful, it has emerged.

Bence Zoltai planned to visit Ciaran Tobin (49) during his short period behind bars in Hungary this week, but changed his mind, according to reports.

Tobin will be flown home to Dublin tonight to finish his sentence here after special arrangements were made between Irish and Hungarian authorities.

Tobin lost control of his company Volvo in the city of Leanyfalu, near Budapest, on April 9, 2000 and mounted the pavement while trying to avoid a car coming from a side road.

Marton Zoltai (5), who was standing on the pavement, and his sister Petra (2), who was in a pram, were killed instantly.

Following a lengthy legal battle, Tobin, who lives in Offington Drive in Sutton with his family, returned to Hungary this week to begin serving an 18-month sentence.

Tobin is staying in a facility in the middle of Budapest in Nagy Ignác Utca.

The prison is described by Hungarian sources as "not in a very good condition", but Tobin has special privileges while there.

He sleeps in a one person cell and his wife, who is staying in a hotel, can visit him every day for 40 minutes. Officials say that these measures were also introduced for his safety, as he does not speak Hungarian and other inmates were likely to treat him harshly

Tobin brought a novel with him, and paid for his flight to Budapest himself, but his trip back to Dublin tonight will be covered by the Hungarian state.

While in prison Tobin cannot wear his own clothes, and has to wake up at 6.30am and make his own bed. He has to stand at attention until the inspection guard comes in to his cell.

He can go for a walk at noon for an hour, dinner is at 6pm and lights are out at 8.30pm.

He will fly back to Ireland tonight where he will serve the remaining time.

Following the deaths of the siblings, Tobin returned to Ireland, but in 2002 a court in Hungary sentenced the father-of-three in his absence to a term in prison between two and three years after convicting him of negligent driving.

APPEAL

The sentence was later reduced to 18 months on appeal.

He later won a Supreme Court bid to avoid extradition.

In 2010, the Hungarian authorities issued a new warrant for him. He lost a High Court challenge to the second extradition attempt but won his appeal to the Supreme Court.

It is understood that a deal was arranged between the departments of Justice here and in Hungary that would allow Tobin, to serve a short portion of his sentence in Hungary and the remainder in Ireland.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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