Driver (22) who drove through red light and knocked down man avoids jail over death

By Declan Brennan and Brion Hoban, 23 February 2022

A young driver who drove through a red light and knocked down a pedestrian who died has received a fully suspended sentence.

Lawyers for Letitia Barry (22) told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that there were unusual features at the pedestrian crossing at Whitestown Road, in Rush, Co Dublin which made the position of the victim somewhat invisible to a driver at a certain point.

The court heard that local man John Byrne had used the road crossing many times before and always waited for the pedestrian green light before crossing.

A forensic analysis of the lights sequencing indicated that there was a gap of six seconds between the vehicular lights going red and the pedestrian light going green.

After her car hit him John Byrne was flipped in to the air.

His head hit the kerb and he was brought to hospital and died as a result of the head injuries sustained.

Barry stayed at the scene after the collision and she and other members of the public tried to provide some comfort to Mr Byrne with blankets.

In her later statement to gardaí, Barry said that she was approaching the junction when her friend who was the front seat passenger shouted “he is going to run”.

She said she slammed on the brakes and the car swerved.

She said she didn’t remember if the light was green or red, or how fast she was going.

An analysis of her mobile phone showed no evidence to suggest she was using it while driving and analysis of the tyre braking marks on the road indicated she was driving within the speed limit of 50km/hr.

Witnesses told gardaí that the traffic lights were red for drivers when Mr Byrne “took off in a run from the footpath”.

One woman said she saw Mr Byrne’s foot go out onto the road and the car hitting him with a thud.

Collision investigators found that the car was in good working order, but that the swerving tyre marks were consistent with the brakes locking up.

They found the ABS dashboard light indicated a fault, but could not say if this was showing before the collision.

A garda report noted that the location of “street furniture” such as lamp standards and the traffic lights, had a tendency to obscure pedestrians from drivers at the point Mr Byrne had been standing.

The report stated the layout was not in accordance with the relative manual for the ideal placement of street furniture.

Barry of Rivermeade Park, St Margarets, Dublin, pleaded guilty to driving a car without due care and attention, thereby causing the death of John Byrne.

Sergeant Derek Dalton accepted a submission from defending counsel Conor Devally SC that if the defendant had seen a red light she would not have run it.

Counsel said that his client was a “relatively inexperienced” driver, having received her full licence three months earlier.

A relative of Mr Byrne told the court that death of their “son, brother and uncle” has irrevocably changed the lives of his family.

She said that Mr Byrne was a gentle, kind and very sociable man who had many friends in the area and a wide range of interests, including discos and GAA.

She said the loss is a daily pain for them, “the pain and grief knowing we will never see his smile or hear his laugh again”.

She said the family continue to receive letters of gratitude from families who benefited from the organs donated by Mr Byrne on his death.

Mr Devally told the court that his client has had great difficulty in coping with the results of her actions.

“At all times she intended to fulfil her duties as a driver. She failed in this instance,” he said.

Passing sentence today, Judge Melanie Greally said that Mr Byrne was in no way responsible for the accident and that he had acted exactly as one should at a pedestrian crossing.

Judge Greally said everything said about Mr Byrne “conveyed a vivid picture of him as a loveable, larger than life young man”.

She said he “brought brightness into the lives of others” and it is no surprise “the void he has left is enormous”.

The judge said the principle fault factor was the failure by the accused to be alert to the pedestrian crossing and that the light was red.

She said the lapse was more than a split second, that it lasted nine seconds from when the amber light illuminated.

She said the mitigating factors included Barry’s plea of guilty, her co-operation, her lack of previous convictions and her youth.

She said she took into account that Barry will “forever bear the heavy burden of having caused the death of another”.

Judge Greally sentenced Barry to eight months imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions.

She said she did so due to the combination of the lack of aggravating factors and the number of mitigating factors, in particular Barry being the mother of a young child.

The judge also disqualified Barry from driving for six years.

Man (40) remanded over alleged attempt to collect pension at Carlow post office (via Irish Times)

Judge sentences Declan Haughney to six months over separate theft incidents

By Charlie Keegan, 23 February 2022

A 40-year-old who is accused of bringing a dead man into a post office in Carlow town in an attempt to collect his pension has been further remanded in custody with consent to bail.

Declan Haughney, of Pollerton Road, Carlow, who appeared via video link, faces two charges contrary to Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act.

They are that at 11.04am at Hosey’s Post Office on Staplestown Road, Carlow he induced by deception a member of staff, by producing a social welfare card in an attempt to withdraw the €246 pension of Peader Doyle.

The court was informed that the file is with the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the post office incident. Sgt Hud Kelly sought a four-week adjournment on those matters, which Haughney consented to.

Separately, Haughney was sentenced by Judge Geraldine Carty to six months imprisonment over an unrelated theft charge. He took goods valued at €175 from Sports Direct in Carlow’s Fair Green centre on January 15th last.

He was also convicted of three other theft charges relating to incidents in Carlow town on dates last month. These offences were taken into consideration by the judge, who ordered that the six month sentence commence from January 27th, the date he was first remanded in custody.

Sgt Hud Kelly told the court that Haughney has 48 previous convictions, 13 of which relate to theft.

Brendan Flaherty, solictor for Haughney, told the court his client wished to have the theft charges dealt with. The solicitor said the council house where his client had lived is now boarded up and he is homeless. “He has had his addiction problems over the years and is on methadone,” he said.

Jury acquits former garda of raping his wife at their family home

By Declan Brennan, February 22 2022

A jury has acquitted a former garda of raping his wife at their family home nearly four years ago.

The 60-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to raping his wife in her bedroom at their family home in Leinster on a date in July 2018. Neither the defendant nor the complainant can be identified in accordance with the Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981.

After a five-day trial at the Central Criminal Court, a jury of eight men and four women took a little over two hours to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

Justice Karen O’Connor thanked the jurors for their service and told the defendant he was free to go. He had been remanded on bail throughout the trial.

During the trial, Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, told the jury that the couple had married in 2007, but that the marriage was acrimonious and by 2018 it was irretrievably broken down and the woman was seeking a divorce.

The woman told the court that she was subjected to emotional and psychological abuse while the defendant, in his evidence, denied this and testified that he was the subject of the abuse from his wife.

The woman told the trial that the couple had stopped sharing a bed but that they still had some sexual interactions, the last prior to the alleged rape being the previous April. She said that her husband was the one who was always “in the driving seat”.

She said that on the morning of the alleged rape she was lying on her bed and the accused walked into the room. She said he was naked from the waist down and was rubbing his penis and told her that “he was fiercely or furiously horny and that he wanted to f*** me”.

She said she told him to f*** off. She said he then lay on the bed and put his arm around her from behind, put her on her back and raped her.

“I kept asking him to get off”, she said, adding that she also told him that their children were in the house. After his arrest the defendant told gardai that the rape allegation was a complete fabrication.

The woman told the jury that a week after the alleged rape she confronted her husband about it and he told her that “something is coming”. The defendant testified that this conversation never took place.

The court heard that some weeks later after this alleged conversation, two gardaí came to the house and served the woman with a District Court summons for a safety order.

Under cross-examination from Mr Gageby, the defendant denied that he took out the safety order against his wife so that he could argue that her later allegation of rape was in response to the court order.

He said that in the days before he got the order his wife had smacked him in the mouth with a mobile phone, breaking a back tooth. He told the jury he got the order out to protect himself and that he was in fear of his wife, who he described as argumentative and combustible.

“You weren’t in great fear of her making a rape complaint were you?” Mr Gageby asked. The defendant replied “I thought she was going to make some kind of a complaint, yes”.