Girl sues parents for crash that killed sister

By Ann O’Loughlin - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A schoolgirl seriously injured in a car accident in which her sister and a friend died has launched an action for damages in the High Court against her parents.

Faith Varden-Carberry was seven years of age when her mother — who had been banned from driving and was uninsured — ploughed into an embankment on a disused road outside Edgeworthstown, Co Longford.

Faith’s sister Ava, 6, and her friend Michaela Logan were killed and another child was injured in the Nov 2007 accident.

Faith’s mother, Mary Carberry, was later sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, with two years suspended.

Faith’s father, Thomas Varden, told the High Court yesterday he got a phonecall from Ms Carberry about the accident. "She said Ava was dead and she thought Faith was dead too," he said. He said when he got to the hospital he discovered Ms Carberry had been driving.

At Mullingar Hospital mortuary, he said he found Ms Carberry lying beside Ava’s body to keep her warm.

"She said: ‘If I had a gun I would shoot myself.’ I said: ‘If I had a gun I would do it for you myself.’ My other child was dying. It was terrible.

"I thought Faith was dying, but she recognised my voice and I was delighted. I did not see Mary Carberry again until Ava’s funeral. I was angry. I am still very angry.

"No way would I have given the car to her if I thought she was going to use it that way. I trusted her."

Mr Varden was giving evidence in the action of Faith Varden-Carberry, aged 12, Clonguish Court, Newtownforbes, Co Longford.

Faith, through grandfather Anthony Carberry, of St Mels Rd, Longford, has sued her father, Mr Varden, of Renville Village, Oranmore, Co Galway; her mother, Ms Carberry of Clonguish Court, Newtownforbes, Co Longford; and the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland.

It is claimed that on Nov 26, 2007, a car, the property of Mr Varden, and driven by Ms Carberry, who was uninsured, was caused to be driven into collision at or near the old Dublin Rd, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford.

As a result Faith was taken to hospital after her cervical spine had been stabilised. She later underwent surgery and was transferred to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, were she was treated in a spinal cast for about 10 weeks.

It is claimed Faith suffered severe psychological trauma over the death of her sister in the accident. She attended a psychologist for three months after the crash.

Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill, who is to decide the issue of liability, was told Mr Varden does not deny he was the owner of the car but claims the car was being driven by Ms Carberry without his authority. Judgement against Ms Carberry has already been obtained in the case.

Mr Varden, a Galway businessman, said he never lived with Ms Carberry but kept in contact with his children and provided accommodation for them. When Ms Carberry was disqualified from driving, the children had to walk over 2km to school, he said.

"It pulled at my heartstrings," he said. "She was seeking for me to provide transport, purchase a car, and somebody who was insured and had a full licence would drive it."

He said he did not want to do buy a car but the children would come on the phone saying they were cold and wet. He said Ms Carberry was in Alcoholics Anonymous and seemed to be turning over a new leaf. He bought a car for €14,000 but since Ms Carberry was banned from driving someone else would have to drive it.

On Nov 26, 2007, Ms Carberry asked him to change the insurance to an open driving policy, which he did, as he thought her family were helping her.

Mr Varden also told the court that, between 2003 and 2007 he and Ms Carberry’s parents had contacted social services about the children. He said he met social workers a few months before the accident to voice his fears but nothing was done.

The case before Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill continues.


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