Saturday 16 December 2017

Death crash driver is handed €1,500 fine


A MAN who drove a lorry that mounted a car and left its young lady driver dead at the scene has been disqualified from driving for eight years and fined €1500.

' The fine may not seem a lot to some people, but to someone out of work, it is a substantial amount of money,' said Judge Alice Doyle as she passed sentence on Robert Eustace (34), of Bachelors Hall, Hayestown, at Wexford Circuit Court last week.

Eustace had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of 21-year-old Aoife Kelly at Adamstown on September 18, 2009. Ms Kelly had just been given the good news at the time that she was in remission from the leukaemia she had been battling.

The court heard from Garda Peter Buttle that Eustace was driving a sand lorry at the time of the crash. It veered to its incorrect side of the road, mounted the car, and virtually drove over it. Ms Kelly, the driver of the car, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Robert Eustace subsequently provided statements to Gardai. It turned out it was his first time driving the lorry, and he was just doing so because another person had phoned in sick. He thought the vehicle may have had a steering problem, and could give no other explanation for why it veered out across the road.

The court further learned that Eustace had also been involved in a crash in July 2005, during his previous employment. He had a blackout in the lead-up to that accident and as a result he had been advised by his doctor not to drive a Heavy Goods Vehicle again. He also had a drink driving conviction from August 2007, but there was no evidence of either drinking or speeding at the time of the crash that claimed Ms Kelly's life.

Defence Counsel, Mr Patrick McCarthy SC, said that Eustace was devastated by the tragedy. He is now out of work and not driving at all, and is unlikely to ever drive again.

'He (accused) is only too well aware of the life shattering affect this has had on the Kelly family. He has shown remorse and unlikely to be involved in anything like this again. The Eustace family have recognized the devastating impact this has had on the Kelly family,' said Mr. McCarthy.

Judge Doyle remanded Eustace in custody overnight to consider sentence. She said the following day that having considered all the evidence and the reports prepared for the court, which detailed the effects the crash is still having on the defendant, she had decided not to impose a prison sentence. Instead, she handed down the eight-year ban and fine of €1,500, saying it represented a substantial penalty for Eustace as he is currently out of work.

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