06 Oct 2022

Dundalk court: Jailed for killing man in crash

Dundalk court: Jailed for killing man in crash

Dundalk courthouse

A delivery driver who fatally injured a 64 year old grandfather when his van collided with the victim’s car on the N2 north of Ardee, after he pulled onto the wrong side of the road to overtake traffic approaching a bend, was jailed for three years at Dundalk Circuit Court last week.

Paul McCleave (30) with an address at Gort na Mona Court, Springfield, Belfast previously admitted dangerous driving causing the death of Tom Begley, at Aclint, Ardee on April 28th 2018 and  admitted driving while cocaine was in his system at his sentencing hearing yesterday.

The court heard last Friday how the victim had been returning home to Reaghstown after getting his car washed in Carrickmacross when it was hit head on around 5.40pm by a Mercedes Sprinter van driven by Paul McCleave, who had pulled out from a line of traffic onto the wrong side of the road and crossing double continuous white lines, to overtake as he was approaching a bad bend.

Mr. Begley was transferred from the scene by air ambulance to Beaumont hospital and died the following evening from the serious head injuries he had sustained.

One witness who was driving ahead of the defendant at the speed limit of 100 kph, told gardaí Paul McCleave was driving too close behind him  and he could see in his rear-view mirror that the van driver had one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the window.

A second told investigating officers that there was a constant stream of traffic coming from the other direction and a third witness, an off-duty garda said the van driver had pulled back in earlier after a car had emerged at a junction, and he remembered thinking “Why is he doing that?” when the van moved out again to overtake on the bend.

In a victim impact statement Mr. Begley’s daughter Lorraine said they had lost the rock of their family who would light up a room with his smile, humour and laughter.

She said a piece of them has died with him and added it had taken over three years for the defendant to plead guilty.

The investigating garda confirmed to the Defence that Mr. McCleave had no history of ‘delinquent driving’.

When Judge Patrick Quinn questioned the lengthy delay in the defendant admitting his guilt, the Senior Counsel said his client was filled with fear and anxiety at the prospect of prison to the point of being suicidal at one stage.

Judge Quinn imposed a five year sentence with the final two years suspended for the dangerous driving causing death charge, and a concurrent six month jail term for the drug driving offence and disqualified the 30 year old from driving for 12 years.

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