Alcoholic 'road menace' jailed for six years

An alcoholic woman described as "a menace on the road" by Judge Tony Hunt has been jailed for six years for dangerous driving which resulted in severe leg injuries to a Swedish tourist.

Kathleen O'Brien Kelly (aged 43), of no fixed abode pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to driving while intoxicated onto a footpath at Portobello Bridge, Rathmines on May 20, 2007, crushing Margareta Scherin (aged 63), between a wall and a lamppost and seriously damaging her leg.

Judge Hunt praised Mr Noel Byrne who witnessed the impact and followed Kelly trying to get her to stop after she drove off.

"It's heartening to see that a citizen would intervene the way Mr Byrne did," he said.

Prosecuting counsel, Ms Una Ni Raifeartaigh BL, said Ms Scherin won't know until next year if her leg will be permanently damaged.

Ms Ni Raifeartaigh she underwent a three hour operation 11 days after the incident and metal plates were inserted into her right leg to fix the fractures, cuts and bruising she suffered from the impact with the car.

Ms Scherin then spent several weeks in a wheelchair, relying on her husband for all her hygiene needs until she moved onto crutches and spent €2000 on medical bills as well as extra amending at her house for the time she spent wheelchair-bound.

Garda Patrick Clarke told Ms Ni Raifeartaigh that Mr Byrne saw Kelly's car lose a tyre when it crushed Ms Scherin against the wall.

Mr Byrne followed Kelly in his car when he saw her continue driving towards the city centre, leaving Ms Scherin on the ground with blood running from her leg. He got as far as Harold's Cross where Kelly abandoned it and continued her way on foot.

Gda Clarke said Kelly refused to stop when Mr Byrne called out to her and he contacted gardaí who found her in the area later heavily intoxicated, wheeling a pram she claimed she found in a bin.

Judge Hunt extended his warm compliments to Mr Byrne in what he described as a “sad and difficult case” where the only result of Ms Scherin's visit to Ireland “was an injury she'll probably have for the rest of her life.”

He noted Kelly's “tragic” background where she lost three of her children from a previous relationship in a fire in Wales. While she has three more children from a current relationship, she has no fixed abode and numerous convictions for driving offences.

Judge Hunt suspended the last two years of her sentence adding: “I also intend to disqualify her from driving for life. I think she's a menace on the road.”


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