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'This isn't a question of revenge, it's simply not fair' - widow speaks out after hit and run

Margaret O’Leary, whose husband Paud was killed by drunk driver Shane Fitzgerald in 2012, has spoken of her frustration at Ireland’s hit-and-run laws.

Shane Fitzgerald
Shane Fitzgerald
Image: RTE

THE WIDOW OF 42-year-old hit-and-run victim Paud O’Leary has denounced Ireland’s hit-and-run laws as being too “loose”, after her husband’s killer was last week sentenced to six and a half years in prison with the final 18 months suspended.

“To get five years doesn’t really add up,” a clearly emotional Margaret O’Leary told Jonathan Healy on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.

It’s all about rehabilitation these days isn’t it.
But from our point of view, it’s not about revenge, the sentence handed down simply isn’t fair.
If you take the totality of the crime, absconding, the lies, having to be extradited, standing up and saying ‘not guilty’, to get five years for putting our family through all this, it just doesn’t add up.
And we know he’ll be released early, it’s what happens, the jails are full to capacity as it is.

Father of four Paud O’Leary was hit by drunk driver Shane Fitzgerald’s Toyota Land Cruiser whilst training for a charity Ring of Kerry cycle near Killarney at 5 am on 1 July, 2012.

Paud’s body was discovered by his own family members some eight hours after the fact.

Fitzgerald, now 23 and originally from Cork, fled the scene and absconded to England the next day. Within two weeks he had escaped to Australia where he worked in the mines.

He was interviewed by Australian police but could not be extradited as Ireland has no such treaty with Australia.

Fitzgerald was eventually arrested in February 2014 at Heathrow Airport. He was returning to Australia but had been spotted and recognised by an Irish citizen in Cambridge the previous day.

Paud O'Leary Paud O'Leary Source: RTE

“The law around a hit and run is quite loose, it’s not really fair,” said Margaret.

It should be about sending a message to young men and women who end up having a good time at some family’s expense, it’s just not fair.
My family is destroyed after what happened. I’m trying to get four children through trauma. There’s still sleepless nights happening in my family.

When sentencing Fitzgerald, Judge Thomas O’Donnell described Margaret O’Leary’s victim impact statement as “one of the most powerful I have ever heard”.

When asked by Healy what she would say to Fitzgerald now, and how she felt about him, Margaret replied that she had “no forgiveness for that man”.

To do what he did, to mow my husband down, leave him there like a dog and then lie about it, I have no forgiveness for him.
I would ask him: ‘What was it all about? Why didn’t he tell the truth? Why did he put me and my four children though this? Who was it to benefit?

Read: ‘A smile to lift a thousand frowns’: Karen Buckley funeral takes place in Cork

Read:‘How can you stab someone 17 times and not be convicted of murder?’

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