Monday 16 September 2019

Culprit drank beer and vodka before getting behind wheel

THE POLISH MAN who mowed down young New Ross woman Laura Byrne in a drunken hit-and-run and left her with long-term injuries was jailed for two and a half years for his crimes when he came before Wexford Circuit Court last week.

24-year-old Karl Chrzan (pictured), with an address at 56 Belleville in New Ross, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious harm to Ms Byrne at John Street in New Ross on June 20, 2009. He also pleaded guilty to drunken driving, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, and driving without insurance. He received a three-year jail term, but the final six months were suspended on account of how he pleaded guilty to the charges from the outset.

Sergeant Niall Brophy told the court how the defendant took his partner's car without permission that night, and ended up driving into a number of people at John Street. Ms Byrne, he said, appeared to be hit with the full force of the vehicle. She was thrown into the air, and her head smashed off the windscreen as she fell back to the road. She was brought to Waterford Regional Hospital, where she received emergency surgery and medication. She was later removed to Cork Regional Hospital. An MRI scan, said Sgt. Brophy, showed bleeding into the brain, while there were also bruises to her legs, back and skull. Since the accident she has undergone extensive rehabilitation, including speech theraphy and physiotherapy. He said that Mr. Hegarty, the Consultant Surgeon, incicated she made improvements over the following months. Sgt. Brophy said he understood that Ms Byrne would regain all her functions, although she is still receiving physiotherapy, and is seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist. She is now able to walk without aid.

The Sergeant said that when he called to the defendant's house after the accident, he admitted being the driver and also that he had been drinking on the night. He appeared remorseful. The defendant, he said, was arrested and brought to Wexford Garda Station where he was tested in relation to drink driving. His reading was 54 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml breath. Subsequently he was brought to New Ross Garda Station for interview.

Chrzan said he had first drunk six bottles of beer, then a further 'one and half beers', and some vodka. He said he was driving at just 30 km/h at the time of the accident and that he panicked when it happened, which was why he did not remain at the scene.

Defence Counsel, Aidan Doyle S.C., told the court that the defendant was very remorseful. He had come to Ireland with his parents and siblings at 18 years of age and had been working, but is now unemployed. His partner is pregnant at the moment. A mitigating factor is that he entered a plea at the earliest opportunity.

Sentencing the defendant to three years in prision for dangerous driving, with the final six months suspended, Judge Alice Doyle said this was an accident that left a young woman with physical and mental injuries that would remain with her for the rest of her life, all caused by the irresponsible driving of this man. He took his partner's car without permission, went out driving, and mowed down this young woman.

The Judge also handed down a six-year driving ban, along with other sentences of two months for driving without insurance, two months for leaving the scene of an accident, and three months for drunken driving, all to run concurrently with the main sentence.

She refused leave to appeal.

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