‘I struggle to cope with knowing we needlessly lost a brother and life will never be the same again’
IN AN emotional victim impact statement George Johnson’s sister said her brother died ‘due to the thoughtlessness and reckless actions of Anthony Leahy.’ Ann Breen said ‘it is three years and four months and still I find it almost impossible to think of him (George) as deceased.’
Speaking on behalf of her siblings and George’s partner, Imelda Turner, Ann said she had found it ‘difficult to put into words what loss we suffered’.
She said George was ‘a warm, charming and outgoing person who loved life. He had an amazing sense of humour and he was welcoming to all who crossed his path. He was an organiser in a group - the person who got things done.’
She said the Johnson family were very close before George’s death and George ‘could brighten any situation and he was always there when needed.
She said phone calls between the Johnson siblings has decreased since George’s death and they struggle to cope with George’s ‘terrible injuries’ and the fact none of his siblings were with him as he died.
‘As a result of Anthony Leahy’s actions we have not only lost George but our family unit. I want to regain that (unit) but my constant fear is that we might not be able to’.
She said George was an ‘outstanding sportsman’ and from a young age had played hurling and football with his local club, St. Patrick’s, representing the club at county level.
‘Some of my most precious memories are of George in full flight on the playing field. He liked to win but that’s not all the game was about’, she said adding that he mentored younger players as well.
Ms. Breen said George had met his partner, Imelda, in 1988 and ‘he loved her and life in the village of Roundwood’. She said the Johnson family often used to joke that Imelda ‘stole him away to Roundwood’ but she said the reality was they lived there very happily for 20 years.
A roofer by trade George took great pride in his work and often worked six days a week. ‘Going to work was a challenge he enjoyed. It still amazes me the number of people who talk about his work. It was a talent.’
She said George’s death also had a profound effect on Imelda. Ms. Breen said Ms. Turner told her of how she saw George ‘lying on the road and how she will never forget the shock of seeing his body broken and mangled.’
She said Ms. Turner told her how she ‘wanted to hold him but she couldn’t. She held his hand and talking to him’. She said Ms. Turner felt such terror as she went to Louglinstown Hospital in the ambulance with George.
Ms. Breen said ‘I struggle to cope with knowing we needlessly lost a brother and life will never be the same again. My fear is that our family will never recover and we will have a constant worry about Imelda and how she is coping. We will always be haunted by what happened to George on November 4, 2007.’
She told Judge Michael O’Shea the victim impact statement was only an indication of their loss and its impact on them and ‘the true impact will never be measured’.