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Man (23) pleads guilty to dangerous driving that caused best friend's death

The Dublin driver was travelling at up to twice the legal speed limit, the court heard today.

Image: Shutterstock/fotandy

A YOUNG MAN with 73 previous convictions whose dangerous driving caused the death of his best friend wears a photo of the victim around his neck, a court has heard.

Kevin McCarthy (23) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of dangerous driving causing the death of 21-year-old Thomas Carroll on the N81 near Brittas, Co Wicklow on 29 May 2014.

Carroll was a passenger in a car which McCarthy, then aged 20, was driving at up to twice the legal speed limit, the court heard today.

McCarthy has 73 previous convictions including 14 counts of failing to produce proof of insurance and 18 counts of failing to produce a licence. He was convicted of driving without insurance in September 2015, over a year after the death of his friend.

Garda Maria Dolan told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that a newspaper delivery driver was driving along the road by the Blue Gardenia pub near Brittas around 2.40am in the morning when he came across an upturned car in the middle of the road and four young men who were “hysterical” and asking for help for their friend.

Carroll, a father-of-one, was lying at the scene with massive head injuries. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

McCarthy of Rossfield Park, Tallaght, Dublin, told gardaí he had been hanging out with his group of friends that evening like they usually did. He said he was driving the group back to Tallaght and Carroll was sitting in the back passenger seat when the car spun out of control into some trees.

It flipped over twice and spun around about 10 times before coming to rest on the wrong side of the road.

McCarthy told gardaí he was travelling at around 100-120 km/h at the time, which he said was the speed limit on the road. However, the court heard the speed limit was 60km/h and this was signposted on the road about 300 metres before the crash site.

“I never went out that night planning on hurting anyone,” McCarthy told gardaí. “Tom was one of my best friends. I miss him terribly.”

McCarthy sat with his head bowed and wiped his eyes several times during the sentence hearing. He wears a necklace with a picture of his friend “to remind him every day”, Garda Dolan said.

He will be sentenced on 28 March.

Family members of the dead man also wept in court and several had to leave as details of the young man’s death were heard in court. A forensic report stated he was partially ejected from the car when it flipped and was dragged along the road.

In victim impact statements read out in court, Carroll’s mother, brother and two sisters described the pain of losing their son and brother in such horrific circumstances that they were advised to hold his funeral in a closed casket.

The funeral directors worked for 12 hours to ensure they could see his body and hold his hand one last time, the court heard.

His mother, Nicola Carroll, said she was “distraught” at how he died and often thought of how terrified he must have been in his final moments in the car. She said her son Glen, who was called to the scene by Carroll’s friends, was still traumatised by what he saw that night.

The court heard Tom was a devoted father, son and sibling, who was “always laughing” and “had a smile that could light up a room”.

His partner Mairead described her devastation at losing her childhood sweetheart and future husband. She said their daughter, who was three when Carroll was killed, still struggles with his death.

“It’s hard bringing up a child alone and harder when I have to answer her little questions about how daddy died and why daddy died,” she wrote.

The court heard McCarthy had not been drinking on the night of the crash. He tested positive for smoking cannabis in the days before the crash but this was not a factor in the incident, Garda Dolan said.

Defence barrister Hugh Hartnett SC, said it was a “tragedy” and his client was “hugely remorseful and devastated” at the death of his friend. He submitted McCarthy had co-operated fully with gardaí and immediately admitted to being the driver.

This was significant, as none of the other men in the car gave statements to gardaí, the court heard.

Judge Pauline Codd thanked the Carroll family for attending the sentence hearing. “I appreciate this has been a very difficult day for the family, who have had to listen to some harrowing evidence,” she said.

Comments have been closed as sentencing is due.

Read: Man who strangled woman he was having an affair with jailed for 8 years

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