‘A tragic case for all concerned’. That was Judge James McCourt’s observation as he dealt with a charge of careless driving causing serious bodily harm.
He was speaking at the conclusion of the prosecution brought against motorist Tanya Kirwan (38) from Killisk, The Ballagh.
The accused admitted that her Opel Insignia had struck an 88-year-old man who was walking on the road near her home on February 22 last year.
The pedestrian turned out to be Laurence Leacy who died a few days after the accident occurred at Tinraheen, The Ballagh.
Garda Madeleine Holmes reckoned that the scene was just over two kilometres south of the village at a place known as Cousin’s Hill.
On the afternoon in question, the defendant’s husband Sean Doyle was at home when his wife arrived blowing the horn of the Insignia.
He got into the passenger seat and she drove back the short distance to Cousin’s Hill where the 88-year-old was still lying on the ground.
The injured man had been residing for years at the Sawdust Inn but was in the habit of walking out to what had been his family home. He was airlifted to Tallaght Hospital and later treated at Beaumont Hospital.
An examination of the car showed damage restricted to the left side rear view mirror, with no evidence that he had been struck by the wing or bonnet.
Leacy had incurred spinal fractures, a fractured tibia and a lacerated scalp.
While in hospital he suffered kidney failure and the immediate cause of death was a respiratory tract infection.
He had no living relatives but a victim impact statement was submitted to the court by Tommy and Theresa Atkinson of the Sawdust Inn.
The casualty was described in the statement as a kind and gentle soul who had become part of the Atkinson family.
Mother of three Tanya Kirwan was represented before Judge James McCourt by barrister Jordan Fletcher. He told how she had worked as a legal secretary in the past and had found employment more recently as a carer looking after Alzheimer patients.
The inevitable mandatory four-year disqualification from driving would lead to the loss of her job, he revealed.
The judge noted that, since the events of February 2021, Ms Kirwan had suffered from nightmares and flashbacks.
There was no evidence, he concluded, that speed or alcohol was involved in the fatal accident. It appeared be the result of a momentary loss of concentration, for which the accused was handed a one-year sentence which he suspended in full.
Ms Kirwan was in tears as the verdict was delivered and the judge offered condolences to the Atkinsons.