Unaccompanied learner driver gets suspended sentence over death of motorcyclist in collision

Unaccompanied learner driver gets suspended sentence over death of motorcyclist in collision
File photo.

An unaccompanied learner driver who was involved in a fatal collision with a food delivery motorcyclist has been given a suspended 12-month sentence.

In Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Kaine Ugwu (aged 25) was ordered to pay €10,000 to both the fiancee and the mother of the dead man, Fernando Coimbra de Almeida Morato.

Ugwu, with an address at Cassian Court South, Royal Canal Bar, Ashtown, Dublin pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of Mr Morato at North Circular Road, Dublin , on December 8, 2017. He has no previous convictions.

Mr Morato, a 34-year-old Brazilian national, was working as a food delivery driver when Ugwu collided with him while attempting to turn right at a green light. Ugwu, originally from Nigeria, had been driving in the country for three months at the time.

Handing down sentence, Judge Elma Sheahan said Mr Morato's death was “heartbreaking” for his family. She said Ugwu, who holds a master's degree in law and is training to be a solicitor, had chosen to drive unaccompanied on the evening in question.

“He chose to proceed (to turn right) when it would appear it was careless to do so, with a tragic outcome for Mr Morato and his loved ones,” the judge said.

The judge accepted Ugwu had not drunk alcohol and was not speeding at the time of the offence. She noted he cooperated with gardaí and that his chances of proceeding in his chosen career would be greatly affected by the conviction.

The court heard Ugwu's visa to remain in the country has since expired, and the judge noted this could also be an issue for him.

“He will forever carry this burden of the loss of life of another human being and this loss of life will be forever his, regardless of this court's judgment,” the judge said. She suspended the sentence on a number of conditions, including that Ugwu pay the €20,000 to Mr Morato's family within six months.

Judge Sheahan adjourned the matter to next June to ensure the money has been paid and she ordered that Ugwu be allowed to remain in the country until then. She also suspended him from driving for six years.

In a victim impact statement which was previously read out in court, Mr Morato's fiancée said she felt like she died along with the deceased. She said she did not want to leave her house after returning to Brazil and the entire year of 2018 went by without any life or meaning.

She said that by no means could she measure the pain, the emptiness and the hole that exists in her heart that she will carry for the rest of her life.

Seamus Clarke SC, defending, said his client wished to express his clear regret and sadness. He said that what happened will continue to haunt his client for the rest of his life.

He said Ugwu was working as a legal executive in a law firm at the time of the incident, but has since lost this employment.

Detective Sergeant Shane Noonan told Fionnuala O'Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that on the evening in question shortly after 7.30pm, Mr Morato had just dropped off food to an address on Dorset Street.

He was driving a moped with functioning lights and wearing a hi-vis jacket. As he drove through a junction, Ugwu attempted to turn right onto Belvedere Road and his car collided with the victim's moped.

A witness to the incident said she saw the victim somersault up and hit the car's windscreen before being thrown onto the road. Mr Morato was brought to the Mater Hospital and was pronounced dead as a result of injuries sustained in the collision.

When interviewed by gardaí, Ugwu said that he had a learner's permit and was not accompanied by a person with a full licence at the time of the incident.

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