By Gordon Deegan
A 21-year old is to plead guilty to the dangerous driving causing the death of Ennis GAA coach, Eugene McNamara.
At Ennis Circuit Court on Tuesday, Slovakian national, Rene Miko was due to stand trial for the dangerous driving causing the death of Mr McNamara (42) in Ennis on October 26, 2016.
However, counsel for Mr Miko, Yvonne Quinn BL told Judge Gerald Keys that a jury would not be required in the case and that Mr Miko could be arraigned in relation to the case next week.
The guilty plea means now that the McNamara family will be spared the ordeal of a trial and that Mr Miko of Place de Plouzane, Kilrush, Co Clare could be sentenced in relation to the offence after the arraignment next week, though this is likely to take place at a later date.
In the fatal crash, Mr McNamara was walking alone along a footpath at the Gort Rd roundabout near McDonald's in Ennis on October 26, 2016 when he was struck from behind in the crash and Mr McNamara died from his injuries six days later in hospital.
Mr McNamara is a brother of double All-Ireland senior hurling winner from the 1990s, Stephen McNamara and Stephen along with other family members was in court on Tuesday to hear that there will be no trial in the case.
Mr Miko remains on bail and the McNamaras looked on as Mr Miko and his partner exited the courtroom as soon as the case was finished to re-appear on November 15th next.
At Ennis District Court last month, the 26-year-old passenger in the car being driven by Mr Miko was jailed for eight months for his role in the fatal crash.
Milan Rac of Burton Street, Kilrush was a passenger in the car and he pleaded guilty to knowingly being a passenger in the stolen car on October 26, 2016.
Jailing the Slovakian for eight months and banning him from driving for four years, Judge Patrick Durcan told the court that “a man was killed by virtue of Mr Rac’s participation in a most serious criminal endeavour”.
Judge Durcan said: “Someone who allowed themselves to be carried in a stolen vehicle has a huge responsibility and in this case, the consequences were huge.”
Judge Durcan said that a vehicle “is the most legal weapon available to citizens”.
Judge Durcan said that a seriously aggravating factor in the case was that Mr Rac was detected drink driving by Gardai only four weeks prior to the fatal crash.
The drink driving conviction is one of two drink-driving convictions that Mr Rac has.
Insp Tom Kennedy said that after the car crashed at around 10pm, Mr Rac “legged it” from the scene and was apprehended by an off-duty Garda who gave chase.
Insp Kennedy said that Mr McNamara’s death put Mr Rac’s offence into a different perspective and category.
Solicitor for Mr Rac, Edel Ryan said: “What happened was very regrettable and very tragic and Mr Rac is very sorry for his part in it."
She said: “Mr Rac was quite drunk and he was impaired in his decision making.”
Ms Ryan said that Mr Rac was walking home and accepted a lift from the driver of the car who is a relative.
Ms Ryan said: “If he wasn’t in a better state, he wouldn’t have accepted the lift. He didn’t give much thought to getting into the car and he was just happy to get a lift home."
Ms Ryan said: “He is very sorry. He didn’t intend to do anything wrong and he accepts that he made a terrible decision on the evening in question.”