A Dublin van driver has been fined €500 for running over and killing a 70-year-old nun.
Maurice Sheehy (aged 43) of Lein Road, Raheny, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing the death of Sister Helen Power on the Tallaght bypass of the N81 on August 7, 2013.
Sister Power crossed the road at the Old Bawn junction ignoring the red pedestrian crossing lights and without looking left or right.
A witness statement read by Paul Greene, SC, defending, said that Sr Power looked like she was in a trance as she walked into the road and the witness remarked to her partner “she’s going to be killed”.
After the impact Sheehy got out of the van crying, covered his face with his hands and asked a bystander, “Is she alive?”
Sr Power was taken to hospital but died a few hours later. In the weeks after the accident, Sheehy had a cup of tea with nuns from the religious order Sr Power was a member of and attended her funeral.
The court heard that Sr Power had only one blood relative, a sister in New Zealand, and in effect the nuns were her family.
Garda Bridget Malone said Sheehy was driving well below the 80 kph speed limit in the area, was not distracted and was in a vehicle which had only days previously passed the NCT.
She said that Sheehy was looking at the green light in the moments before the accident and had made a “failure of observation” to see Sr Power.
Tony McGillicuddy, BL, prosecuting said the “unfortunate facts” of the case were that Sr Power walked into the road when the lights for her were red and that she didn’t look left or right.
Judge Martin Nolan fined Mr Sheehy €500 but opted not to disqualify him from driving as he said it would be a “major punishment” on his family.
Sheehy works as a van driver during the night so he can care for his five-year-old daughter while his wife is at work.
Judge Nolan said it seemed that Sr Power was “in a world of her own” at the time of the accident but there was some failure on the part of Sheehy to avoid the incident even though it was not of his own creation.