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Man whose dangerous driving caused death of woman (70) allowed to attend son's Communion

The postman, who is visually impaired, can attend the event before starting his five-year jail term.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/shutt2016

A VISUALLY-IMPAIRED man who caused the death of a 70-year-old woman through dangerous driving will be allowed to attend his son’s First Holy Communion before he is jailed for five years.

Postman David Byrne, 42, was in March convicted of dangerous driving causing the death of Patricia Dunne following a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The court heard that Byrne has Usher Syndrome (type two) which is a degenerative eye disorder resulting in peripheral vision loss.

Judge Patricia Ryan today agreed to a request by Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, to allow Byrne attend his son’s First Holy Communion.

Byrne, who has no previous convictions, took an undertaking in court promising to present himself at Mountjoy Prison on Monday morning to begin his five-year jail term.

Byrne, of Sunnyhill, Castlemartin Lodge, Kilcullen, Co Kildare, had pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Dunne at Collins Avenue East, Killester in Dublin on 16 October 2015.

The father-of-two had also pleaded not guilty to dishonestly inducing the National Driving Licence Service to issue him with a driving licence on 30 September 2014.

He had further denied making a false or misleading statement while taking out insurance on 16 September 2015. He was found guilty by a jury of all three charges.

Victim impact statement

At the sentence hearing last week, Dunne’s son read from his victim impact statement and said his family would never forgive Byrne.

John Dunne said Byrne had put them through two weeks of hell in court by not pleading guilty to the dangerous-driving-causing-death charge. He said the family believe his mother’s death was a factor in his father’s death.

The trial heard that Dunne had been walking home, pulling a shopping trolley, around midday on the day in question when she began to cross the road.

A van slowed to allow her to cross, but Byrne’s car then hit her and she was “flung up in the air” before the vehicle came to a stop.

Garda Pamela Dunne told Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that Byrne went to the garda station the following day and gave consent to access his medical records. He told gardaí he couldn’t recall being advised not to drive in 1997.

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In passing sentence today, Judge Ryan extended her sympathies to the victim’s family, saying that it had been inappropriate to do so before now.

She noted the aggravating factors in the case were that Byrne was driving a vehicle while suffering from his condition and he knew it was wrong. She said the mitigating factors were Byrne’s co-operation, previous good record, remorse, his good standing in the community and the testimonials handed in on his behalf.

She also noted that Byrne had an excellent employment record, that a custodial sentence would cause hardship to him and his family and that Dunne’s death had affected him psychologically.

The judge acknowledged that a doctor’s report described Byrne as a psychologically vulnerable man who has been unable to accept his disability for most of his life. She highlighted that the maximum penalty for the dangerous-driving-causing-death charge is 10 years, and that she put the headline sentence in this case at eight years.

Ryan said she was reducing this headline figure to five years due to the mitigating circumstances that she had outlined. She ordered that Byrne receive appropriate treatment in prison for his medical condition.

About the author:

Aoife Nic Ardghail

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