A young man sustained a serious brain injury and also suffered a broken leg on a Christmas morning after being tossed into the air in an impact caused by a drink driver.
The driver was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment, with the last nine months of the sentence suspended.
At Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Judge Patrick J Moran told Gearoid Byrne, of 37 Parknamore, Ballincollig, Co Cork: “You are fortunate you are not on a charge of dangerous driving causing death.”
Byrne, aged 22, pleaded guilty to charges of drink driving and of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to 21-year-old Brian Busher on Dec 25, 2011, at West Village, Ballincollig.
Garda Seán Duggan testified the incident occurred at 2.15am on Christmas Day, the previous year, at the Maxol station at West Village in Ballincollig.
Garda Duggan said six young men, including the injured party, had been chatting at the garage when a Volkswagen Passat driven by Byrne pulled in beside them.
Words were exchanged between the group in the forecourt and the parties in the car.
The garda said the wheels of the car were locked as Byrne first took off in reverse.
Judge Moran said that the force must have been very powerful as it caused Mr Busher to suffer extensive injuries.
Garda Duggan said the injuries were initially described as life-threatening. Fortunately, after three weeks, he was released from hospital. While he has since returned to UCC, he missed a year of his studies, the garda said.
It was anticipated by doctors, treating him for symptoms including tiredness and memory loss, that it would be 18 months before he made a full recovery.
Tom Creed, defence senior counsel, said the Byrne family appreciated the generous attitude taken by Mr Busher and his family to what had happened.
The defendant said: “I would like to apologise for my actions. If I knew how serious the injuries were (on the night), I didn’t even know I hit him, that I knocked him to the floor at the time. I am ashamed of what I done to the Busher family, they only live up the road from us.”
After the collision, Byrne drove away pursued by gardaí and got aggressive with them when they stopped his car about a mile from the scene.