A disqualified driver, who was driving on the wrong side of the road, with the headlights on full-beam when he was involved in a head-on collision which claimed the life of a 70 year old grandmother, was jailed for three and a half years at Dundalk Circuit Court and has been banned from driving for 10 years.
Paul Carroll (30) formerly of Simonstown, Togher but now with an address at Shamrock Grove, Dunleer had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death the death of Margaret Healy and driving without insurance at Clonmore, Togher on March 12th 2016 and also admitted refusing to comply with a requirement to provide a blood or urine specimen at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital.
Margaret Healy from Annagassan and her best friend were returning from a tea party for her niece’s 18th birthday, when the collision happened.
The sentencing hearing on Tuesday was told that the driver had told gardai ‘in the blink of an eye’ she’d seen the full headlights of a car coming straight towards them and the impact felt “like a bomb”.
Mrs. Healy died shortly after being brought to Our Lady of Lourdes hospital, while her best friend was treated in the ICU for two days underwent surgery and was discharged 10 days later.
The defendant’s partner was also injured in the collision.
The court heard Paul Carroll had visited a number of licensed premises before the collision, and had consumed alcohol and some cocaine. His DNA was found on the driver’s airbag of his partner’s Volkswagen Golf, for which there was no NCT certificate nor did the accused have a driving licence.
A forensic collision investigator found the accused had been driving one metre over the continuous white line, and if he had kept the car on the correct side of the road the collision would not have happened.
Paul Carroll had 19 previous convictions, including five for dangerous driving, and two counts each of drink-driving and driving without insurance.
The court heard Maggie Healy was widowed aged 36, when her husband was killed in a hit and run, and one of her daughters, described in a victim impact statement how it was like history repeating itself.
Mrs. Healy was described as loving life, her family and animals, and she idolised her grandchildren.
Paul Carroll’s senior counsel claimed the birth of the defendant's baby daughter had served to turn his life around.
The barrister added her client had sought help for a benzodiazepine addiction.
The court also heard he was assessed as functioning intellectually at a below average level and the barrister stressed that he suffers disturbed sleep and recurring flashbacks of the collision.
Judge Michael O’Shea said the victim impact statements made for harrowing listening and the accused should simply not have been behind the wheel of his partner’s car.