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Dublin: 19 °C Saturday 30 May, 2020
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Woman who lost control of car and killed pedestrian and injured 3 others jailed for 2 years

All four victims were walking home from work during rush hour on a summer evening in Dublin city centre.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

A WOMAN WHO lost control of her vehicle and mounted a footpath killing one pedestrian and seriously injuring three others has been jailed for two years.

Rosemarie Gallagher’s (61) convertible car glanced off a tree, crashed into a stone wall and railings, before it collided with the deceased man Benjamin Renard (24) and three other men. All four men were thrown into the air at the point of impact.

All four victims were walking home from work during rush hour on a summer evening in Dublin city centre.

The vehicle then collided with a stone pillar at the entrance of a creche, causing the car to flip over onto its side before it landed passenger side down and spun off the footpath out onto the road.

Gallagher of Belville Lodge, Donnybrook, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one charge of dangerous driving causing death and three further charges of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm on Adelaide Road, Dublin 2 on 22 August 2017. She has no previous convictions.

Renard died 15 days later after his life support was withdrawn in hospital. He had sustained skull fractures and extensive haemorrhaging which caused swelling of his brain and the injuries were considered non-reversible.

The court heard the young French national had been living in Ireland for a number of years at the time and was on his way home from work as an accountant manager with the company Linkedin.

Gallagher had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 26 years earlier but was considered medically fit to drive. She appeared in court in a wheelchair as her condition has since deteriorated.

Gallagher had, however, failed to disclose to her GP an accident in June 2015 in Rathfarnham, Dublin, when she inexplicably reversed her car into a vehicle waiting in line behind her to exit a carpark.

After colliding with that car, her car continued to reverse and didn’t stop until it crashed into two parked cars.

After the fatal collision in 2017 Gallagher told a garda who met her in hospital that she suffered from MS and her leg had stiffened while driving. Gallagher was uninjured in the crash.

Victim impact statement 

Renard’s mother, Sandrine Fleurbaix, read her victim impact statement with the assistance of an interpreter.

She said she had experienced “misery” since the death of her beloved son, her only child, who was her life.

“My life was my son. Never will I have grandchildren to love or to spoil. My future is empty, my son was my life, without him I am nothing, the pain is too much to bear,” Fleurbaix said.

She described Renard as a bright man who loved to travel.

“I was very proud of him. Never again will my son say Mam I love you, he was so close to me,” she said.

“Mrs Gallagher is guilty of my son’s death because she knew she was sick, my son would still be alive. I no longer live, I survive the loss of my son,” Fleurbaix concluded.

Renard’s father, Laurent Renard, said he had the privilege and honour of being the father of Benjamin for 24 years. He described him as always smiling and kind and said he was passionate to discover the different cultures of the world.

He spoke of the fundraising activities that his son took part in, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and his love for playing basketball.

“The incident always wakes me up. I see the image of my son in a coma,” Mr Renard continued.

He suggested that Gallagher should not have given herself the right to drive, knowing she was sick.

“The incident could have been avoided,” he said before he later added that he cannot accept the excuse from Gallagher.

He said she killed his son and he is no longer the man he was as a result of losing his son.

Injured men

The three other men injured in the crash, Pierce Kenny (31), Joseph Tynan (27) and James Moore (38), suffered various bone fractures.

Judge Martin Nolan described it as “a tragic and lamentable case” and said it was beyond dispute that Gallagher lost control of her car and caused the death of Renard and serious injury to the three men.

He said it seemed to him from the evidence that Gallagher lost control by reason of her condition.

“She suffered some spasm that affected her legs and I can infer that she hit the accelerator and couldn’t control the vehicle,” Judge Nolan said.

He said that Gallagher was “well warned of the characteristics of her condition” and he noted that if she had reported the accident in 2015 to her doctor there would have been a question of whether she should been allowed to drive or not.

“It seems she must have known of her problems while driving as evidenced by her driving at Rathfarnham. It seems she should not have been driving. A doctor probably would not have certified her to drive,” Judge Nolan said.

He said it was also clear that Gallagher wanted to live an independent life and was a woman of “extraordinary intelligence and industry”.

“She has beaten the odds in terms of what she can and cannot do. She has a productive and professional life and is a generous and good hearted person,” Judge Nolan continued referring to Gallagher’s work in sourcing temporary accommodation for homeless children.

He said there was no doubt that Gallagher was remorseful and ashamed of her actions but added that her driving caused a death, which he said was “a particular tragedy” for Renard’s parents and caused difficulties for those injured.

Judge Nolan said a custodial sentence was necessary and said the two year term would have been “considerably longer” had it not been for Gallagher’s “present lamentable condition”.

He disqualified her from driving for three years and refused to postpone her incarceration until after Christmas.

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Sonya McLean

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