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Fully suspended sentence for man whose careless driving caused death of young French woman

Alicia Guilleux (31) and her partner Florian Avril were visiting Ireland on a trip to celebrate a birthday when they were struck by an SUV driven by Shaun Kelly (33).

A YOUNG MAN whose careless driving caused the death of a young French woman has avoided a custodial term for that offence, but must wait to see if he will be jailed for drugs offences.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Alicia Guilleux (31) and her partner Florian Avril were visiting Ireland on a trip to celebrate a birthday when they were struck by an SUV driven by Shaun Kelly (33) as they crossed a city centre road while holding hands.

Kelly was turning right from a minor street, Fade Street, onto South Great George Street.

Avril was pushed clear of the vehicle but Ms Guilleux was dragged underneath the Ford Ranger and sustained catastrophic injuries. She died two days later in hospital.

Ms Guilleux was described by her family as an elegant, bubbly young lady known for her kindness.

She loved to travel and had plans to set up her own business. her mother said her favourite phrase had been: “Enjoy life, because you only get one.”

They described their devastation at her loss, with her absence being like a big hole in their lives.

Mr Avril described how Alicia used to tell him to live each moment to the full. He says he has mourned her loss every day since her passing, which he described as the worst day of his life.

Kelly was tested and was clear of any intoxicants, but drugs were later discovered in the car and he subsequently admitted he had been in the area at the time for the purpose of selling drugs.

Kelly, of Thornhill Gardens, Celbridge, Kildare, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of Ms Guilleux at South Great George Street, Dublin 2, on 11 December 2021.

He further pleaded guilty to possession of ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and TCP, a hallucinogenic drug, on the same occasion for sale or supply. He has no previous convictions.


Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan said the first matter had been a tragic incident and the court expressed its condolences and sorrow to all parties. He said Ms Guilleux’s death had been a huge loss and she could not be replaced in the lives of those affected.

He said the court’s role was to administer justice and give a just sentence to Shaun Kelly.

Judge Nolan said the sentence was based on his culpability and what he did wrong on the night.

He said it seemed to him, from listening to the evidence and watching the CCTV footage, that Kelly made one big mistake. He said it should have been obvious that the couple were on the road and he should have noticed them on the road and driven a different way.

The judge said the couple were there to be seen, but for whatever reason he did not see them.

He said every driver has an obligation to observe in a careful way especially when emerging from a minor to a more major road. He said Kelly had noticed the couple at a very late stage.

He said when he noticed them he could not have reacted any different and did the best he could.

The judge said every driver was capable of inattention, and in such case the courts must look to see of there were any aggravating factors or any intentional misbehaviour that endangered road users.

He said there had not been any great speed involved, he had not taken any intoxicants, was not driving in any great reckless way but he was inattentive.

“It seems to me he was guilty of human failure on the night,” Judge Nolan said, “he did not .. notice the couple crossing the street when he should have”.

He noted the maximum sentence for this offence is two years’ imprisonment.

Judge Nolan outlined the mitigation including Kelly’s guilty plea, admissions, co-operation, lack of previous convictions and the absence of aggravating factors in the case.

He said it seemed the young man had mostly led a pro-social life and had a future before him.

He said that what Kelly had done had tragic consequences, but it seemed to him the court would not be justified in imprisoning him at this point for the crime of careless driving causing death.

The judge said he had made that decision taking into account all the evidence before the court and the submissions made. He imposed a sentence of one year which he suspended in full. He disqualified Kelly from driving for one year.

Judge Nolan said he would think about the drugs offence, which he considered to be a totally separate matter, overnight and give his decision in relation to that today.

Additional evidence

Garda Will McCarthy told Joe Mulrean BL, prosecuting, that the couple were crossing George Street hand in hand close to Fade Street when the car driven by Kelly, a large Ford Ranger, pulled onto George Street turning right.

The collision with the couple occurred at 9.04pm, with Mr Avril pushed forward without injury, but Ms Guilleux was pulled underneath the wheel of the vehicle. Mr Avril banged on the window of the vehicle shouting at it to stop.

A large number of witnesses and passersby gave assistance. A doctor and nurse assisted Ms Guilleux who was at the back wheel under the vehicle, while another witness spoke to Kelly who was visible shaken and in shock. The vehicle was at an angle on the wrong side of the road.

Ms Guilleux sustained catastrophic injuries and succumbed to her injuries two days later. Her family were present and she was kept on life support so her organs could be donated.

Kelly was tested for alcohol and drugs and none were detected. The vehicle was in good mechanical condition with no faults and road conditions were good at the time.

A forensic collision report found the pedestrians were on the road for seven seconds prior to the collision and were available to be seen. The vehicle stopped 2.79 seconds after impact.

The report said it was possible the driver was distracted, but there was no evidence to this effect.

Kelly initially gave gardaí differing accounts in relation to a passenger who had been in his car but later admitted being in the area for the purpose of selling drugs.

Kelly was interviewed again after Ms Guilleux passed away and told gardaí he had not seen the couple until they were right in front of them. He denied being distracted at the time he hit the couple but said he may have looked the other way.

The car had been seized and brought to the garda station. While it was there the battery was recharged in March 2022 and drugs valued at just over €3,088 were found in a magnetic box attached to the engine block.

David Fleming BL, defending, handed in a letter of apology from his client which outlined his “profound and heartfelt remorse” at the tragic events. He said he accepted the consequences of his actions and would work towards making amends.

He said that not a day goes by when he does not think about what he could have done differently on “that awful day”.

Fleming said it was hard to comprehend how a momentary lapse in driving caused such a devastating effect. He said Kelly never intended to cause harm.

He asked the court in assessing the lapse to view the factors that were not present such as speed or intoxicants and the fact Kelly stayed at the scene, was truly distressed and co-operated.

He said in relation to the CCTV, the event was extremely quick, “over in the blink of an eye”.

Fleming submitted it has been a moment of inattention coupled with the unexpected occurrence of meeting pedestrians in an area of the road where he did not expect to see them.

He said Kelly did not see the couple until the pivotal moment and this event would be with him forever. He said it had been a moment of inattention and he braked a second too late.

Counsel said it was a complicating factor that the drugs were found in the car but submitted the offences were separate to one another. He said Kelly regrets becoming involved in drugs, but could not have foreseen that it would lead to these circumstances.

He handed up letters and testimonials from family and people who hold him in high regard.