Woman left se­ri­ously in­jured af­ter head-on crash

DISTRICT COURT

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

A garda de­scribed a scene of ‘ to­tal car­nage’ af­ter a two-car head-on col­li­sion on the N59 where there were a num­ber of peo­ple se­ri­ously hurt.

As re­sult of the ac­ci­dent a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer, Charles Far­rell (61), of Portroyal, Dro­mard, had an ini­tial charge of dan­ger­ous driv­ing re­duced to that of care­less driv­ing. The court heard he had been trav­el­ling on his in­cor­rect side of the road some time prior to the col­li­sion.

Garda PJ Lof­tus of En­nis­crone Garda Sta­tion said he went to the scene at Le­car­row Cross in the early hours of Au­gust 8th 2017 min­utes af­ter the col­li­sion and saw a jeep broad­side on the road, the driver was be­hind the wheel and there was a pas­sen­ger in the rear seat. An­other man was ly­ing on the road with fa­cial in­juries and he was the front seat pas­sen­ger.

Garda Lof­tus said a sec­ond ve­hi­cle, a black BMW, was down an em­bank­ment and he could see the car was on its side fac­ing the Sligo di­rec­tion. He could see the fe­male driver was trapped be­hind the wheel and in a fran­tic state. The fire brigades and am­bu­lance ar­rived shortly af­ter and as­sisted with the in­jured par­ties. The driver of the jeep, Charles Far­rell, who was also trapped be­hind the wheel, com­plained of ch­est pains and was brought to Sligo hospi­tal. The road was closed for hours. Garda Lof­tus said Sharon Nolan, driver of the BMW, was very dis­tressed and re­ceived life chang­ing in­juries to her legs from the ac­ci­dent. He took state­ments from wit­nesses and the 2 par­ties in­volved, he told Judge Kevin Kilrane.

The garda said Ms Nolan in her state­ment said she was trav­el­ling from Sligo to Bal­lina where she lived and had come through Dro­more West and passed the bend at Le­car­row cross and on a straight stretch when she saw a ve­hi­cle on her side of the road and within sec­onds there was an im­pact. She said she was blinded by the head­lights from the ve­hi­cle and didn’t have time to re­act. She said ev­ery­thing hap­pened sud­denly. She re­mem­bered a loud bang and a sud­den stop and was to­tally in shock.

Mr Keith O’Grady BL in­structed by Mr Damien Tansey so­lic­i­tor said there was no ev­i­dence of speed and there was no ev­i­dence from any other road users of pro­longed bad driv­ing from his client or over­tak­ing other ve­hi­cles.

Judge Kilrane said the po­si­tion was that he was re­duc­ing it to a charge of care­less driv­ing. He said un­der­stand­ably the vic­tim had dif­fi­culty re­call­ing what pre­cisely hap­pened be­cause she suf­fered se­ri­ous, life-chang­ing in­juries and he said on the ev­i­dence he was re­duc­ing the charge to care­less driv­ing, say­ing it was at the higher end of care­less driv­ing.

Mr O’Grady said his client was a 61-yearold farmer and a re­tired mem­ber of the po­lice force and had never ap­peared in court be­fore. He said his client had not slept for a week lead­ing up to the court with worry.

Judge Kilrane said that the de­fen­dant was a re­tired po­lice mem­ber but that is nei­ther an ag­gra­vat­ing or a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor that he would be treated the same in this court. He said he was sat­is­fied that the de­fen­dant at some stage was on the in­cor­rect side of the road but that it was not fully clear from the ev­i­dence of the in­jured party.

The judge said he had sym­pa­thies to her as she re­ceived very se­ri­ous in­juries. He said how­ever that the out­come of this case was im­ma­te­rial re­gard­ing the com­pen­sa­tion she will re­ceive.

He con­tin­ued that the ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor was that at some stage on the night in ques­tion Far­rell was on the in­cor­rect side but it wasn’t clear how long he was there for.

He took into con­sid­er­a­tion how the de­fen­dant had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions, pleaded guilty and said that in the cir­cum­stances he was go­ing to con­vict and fine him €1,500 with­out dis­qual­i­fy­ing him.

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