NItruck­driver avoid­s­jailafter crash­in­which new­mumdied

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BYRALPHRIEGEL

A TRUCK driver from North­ern Ire­land who sud­denly veered off a mo­tor­way in the Re­pub­lic and struck a car on the hard shoul­der, killing a young mother on her way to see her sick new­born baby in hospi­tal, has avoided a prison sen­tence.

Tip­per­ary Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court heard that Nicola Kenny (26) died in­stantly from mul­ti­ple in­juries in the col­li­sion be­tween the truck and the car in which she was a back seat pas­sen­ger.

The crash on the M8 Cork-Dublin mo­tor­way hap­pened just sec­onds af­ter she heard from Tem­ple Street Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal that her 24-hourold baby Lily Rose was fine and she didn’t need to make the trip to Dublin to see her.

Truck driver Ciaran McBride (33) of Carna, Keady, Co Ar­magh pleaded guilty yes­ter­day to care­less driv­ing caus­ing death be­tween Junc­tions 10 and 9 on the mo­tor­way on Septem­ber 5, 2016.

Judge Tom Tee­han, in im­pos­ing a sus­pended 18 month prison sen­tence, said the ev­i­dence in­di­cated it was most likely the truck driver mo­men­tar­ily fell asleep at the wheel rather than be­ing dis­tracted by a fit of sneez­ing, as claimed.

“(It was) much more con­sis­tent with fall­ing asleep at the wheel,” he said.

“The greater the size of the ve­hi­cle, the greater the onus on the per­son driv­ing it.”

“He is some­body who is go­ing to have to live for the rest of his days with the knowl­edge that he has caused the death of another hu­man be­ing and caused life chang­ing ef­fects to an en­tire fam­ily.”

The court was told that the 2001 Volvo truck driven by McBride ploughed into the rear of the Ford Fo­cus, stopped on the hard shoul­der, which con­tained Ms Kenny, her mother Ann, a front seat pas­sen­ger, and her aunt, Irene Whe­lan Slat­tery.

Ms Kenny had given birth to a baby girl, Lily Rose, in Clon­mel Hospi­tal on Septem­ber 4.

How­ever, the lit­tle girl be­came ill and was rushed to Tem­ple Street in Dublin.

Ms Kenny had just been col­lected by her Thurles-based mother and aunt and was on her way to see the in­fant in Dublin.

Mrs Whe­lan Slat­tery suf­fered a trau­matic brain in­jury in the col­li­sion and had to be air­lifted to Univer­sity Hospi­tal Lim­er­ick (UHL).

Sergeant De­clan Cor­ri­gan told the court the Ford Fo­cus had pulled over onto the hard shoul­der around 12.25pm that day to al­low Ms Kenny to take an ur­gent hospi­tal call.

“The call was to tell Nicola the baby was fine and there was no need to travel to Dublin,” he said.

Sec­onds af­ter the call fin­ished, the Ford was struck from the rear by the truck driven by the de­fen­dant.

The court was told that McBride in­sisted at the scene and to gar­dai that the ac­ci­dent was caused when he sud­denly suf­fered a bout of sneez­ing.

“He sneezed — it was on ac­count of that it would ap­pear his ve­hi­cle slightly veered onto the hard shoul­der,” de­fence coun­sel Philip Shea­han SC said.

In hard-hit­ting victim im­pact state­ments, Nicola’s par­ents, Ann and Paddy, said their lives had been left dev­as­tated by the tragedy.

“The death of Nicola as a young mother was dev­as­tat­ing both for my­self and my en­tire fam­ily,” her mother said.

“Life will never be the same again.”

Nicola’s fa­ther, Paddy, said his fam­ily are now rais­ing Lily Rose.

“It has left a huge hole in our lives — Nicola’s death is a big loss to our fam­ily and Lily Rose will have to grow up with­out her mother,” he said.

Fam­ily mem­bers did not at­tend the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing.

Speak­ing af­ter the sen­tence, Nicola’s mother Ann said noth­ing will bring her daugh­ter back.

“I’m just happy that the truth came out. That’s all I ever wanted — the truth,” she said.

“But at the end of the day it doesn’t change any­thing. Nicola isn’t here any more,” she added.

She said that Lily Rose is grow­ing up and is well looked af­ter by mem­bers of the fam­ily.

“She’s fly­ing through the place. She’s do­ing great,” she said.

Judge Tee­han was told that the de­fen­dant had in­di­cated to gar­dai he would plead at a very early stage and co-op­er­ated fully with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr McBride had con­tacted the Kenny fam­ily through an Ar­magh priest, and of­fered to at­tend Nicola’s fu­neral.

How­ever, he agreed not to do so when he learned of the Tip­per­ary fam­ily’s wishes.

De­fence coun­sel Philip Shea­han said his client was deeply re­morse­ful and was now suf­fer­ing Post Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der (PTSD).

“Re­morse and re­gret — sor­row is pro­found for Mr McBride,” he said.

“But it pales in com­par­i­son to the level of pain and suf­fer­ing vis­ited on the victim’s fam­ily.”

McBride no longer works as a truck driver.


The scene of the ac­ci­dent near Cashel in which Nicola Kenny (in­set) died

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