The sentencing of a young man whose dangerous driving caused the death of his best friend has been delayed because gardaí do not have a full record of his previous convictions.
Kevin McCarthy (23) of Rossfield Park, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of dangerous driving causing the death of 21-year-old Thomas Carroll on the N81 near Brittas, Co Wicklow on May 29, 2014.
Mr Carroll was a passenger in a car which McCarthy, then aged 20, was driving at up to twice the speed limit.
Last week the court heard McCarthy has 73 previous convictions including 14 counts of failing to produce proof of insurance and 18 counts of failing to produce a licence. He was convicted of driving without insurance in September 2015, over a year after the death of his friend.
However today, Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, said it was possible “an incomplete or inaccurate account of his previous convictions” was given to the court.
He asked for time to gather a full record of McCarthy's convictions and said this may involve having to speak to gardaí in other cases and accessing court records.
Hugh Harnett SC, defending, said he wanted the hearing to proceed and that his client had turned up to answer the case laid against him.
Judge Pauline Codd said it was “very unfortunate” that the issue wasn't addressed last week. She said it was very distressing for the victim's and accused's families.
“I think everyone wants closure and to heal from this,” she said before putting the matter back to next Monday.
Garda Maria Dolan told the sentencing hearing that a paper delivery driver was driving along the road by the Blue Gardenia pub near Brittas around 2.40am in the morning when he came across an upturned car in the middle of the road and four young men who were “hysterical” and asking for help for their friend.
Mr Carroll, a father-of-one, was lying at the scene with massive head injuries. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
McCarthy told gardaí he had been hanging out with his group of friends that evening like they usually did. He said he was driving the group back to Tallaght and Mr Carroll was sitting in the back passenger seat when the car spun out of control into some trees.
It flipped over twice and spun around about 10 times before coming to rest on the wrong side of the road.
McCarthy told gardaí he was travelling at around 100-120 km/h at the time, which he said was the speed limit on the road. However, the court heard the speed limit was 60km/h and this was signposted on the road about 300 metres before the crash site.
“I never went out that night planning on hurting anyone,” McCarthy told gardaí. “Tom was one of my best friends. I miss him terribly.”
McCarthy sat with his head bowed and wiped his eyes several times during the sentence hearing. He wears a necklace with a picture of his friend “to remind him every day”, Gda Dolan said.
Family members of the dead man also wept in court and several had to leave as details of the young man's death were heard in court. A forensic report stated he was partially ejected from the car when it flipped and was dragged along the road.
In victim impact statements read out in court, Mr Carroll's mother, brother and two sisters described the pain of losing their son and brother in such horrific circumstances that they were advised to hold his funeral in a closed casket.
The funeral directors worked for 12 hours to ensure they could see his body and hold his hand one last time, the court heard.
His mother, Nicola Carroll, said she was “distraught” at how he died and often thinks of how terrified he must have been in his final moments in the car. She said her son Glen, who was called to the scene by Carroll's friends, was still traumatised by what he saw that night.
The court heard 'Tom' was a devoted father, son and sibling, who was “always laughing” and “had a smile that could light up a room”.
His partner Mairead described her devastation at losing her childhood sweetheart and future husband. She said their daughter, who was three when Mr Carroll was killed, still struggled with his death.
“It's hard bringing up a child alone and harder when I have to answer her little questions about how daddy died and why daddy died,” she wrote.
The court heard McCarthy had not been drinking on the night of the crash. He tested positive for smoking cannabis in the days before the crash but this was not a factor in the incident, Gda Dolan said.
Mr Hartnett, defending, said it was a “tragedy” and his client was “hugely remorseful and devastated” at the death of his friend. He submitted McCarthy had co-operated fully with gardaí and immediately admitted to being the driver. This was significant, as none of the other men in the car gave statements to gardaí, the court heard.