A man who downed six pints before getting behind the wheel and almost killing his two friends during a horrific head-on collision has been jailed for three years.
Seamus O’Donnell, now aged 27, did not have insurance or a valid NCT for his 14-year-old car which he had bought for just €350.
On October 5, 2014, he drank at least six pints of beer over a three-hour period before getting a takeaway of more beer and driving away with brothers Liam and Sean Ryan.
He pleaded guilty to four different charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury, drink driving, driving with no insurance, and driving without an NCT.
Garda Colm McIntyre told the court that he attended the scene at 5.35am at Quay Rd, Dungloe, and found Liam Ryan in a nearby field with injuries, while his brother Sean had a serious head injury.
O’Donnell’s 2000-registered Toyota Avensis flipped over after it crashed into another car coming in the opposite direction.
Both men have had to undergo extensive medical treatment after suffering life-threatening injuries in the accident, and had since moved to Co Tipperary to start new lives.
Victim impact statements were read into the court on behalf of both injured men.
Liam Ryan suffered a broken pelvis and femur and spent nine days in hospital and now has a 30cm-long scar.
He is not able to work in his old job, has mood swings, suffers from post-traumatic stress, and has a fear of driving.
Sean Ryan has suffered facial disfigurement as well as a personality change, bruising of the brain, has bad headaches, short-term memory loss, a fear of driving, is unable to work, and the right side of his head will always be out of shape.
Judge John O’Hagan said that, once again in Co Donegal, he had to bang the drum about dangerous driving.
“This is a disaster for everyone,” he said.” How long do I and my colleague have to beat the drum, how often do the press have to advertise the tragedy and who listens to either me or them? He picked up a wreck of a car.
“It’s like a recurring bang on that drum — they buy a car for next to nothing and do very stupid things. People get hurt and get killed.”
O’Donnell, who had pleaded guilty to all four charges, took to the witness box and apologised to the Ryan brothers in their absence.
He admitted he has had issues with alcohol since he was about 17 but was trying to deal with them by attending AA meetings.
Passing sentence Judge O’Hagan said “I have heard this story so many times in Co Donegal but the clock cannot go back. The harm is done and it cannot be undone.”
He sentenced O’Donnell, of Oillean Teora, Crolly, to six years for the charge of dangerous driving causing serious injury but suspended the last three years, and also disqualified him from driving for 10 years.
He also jailed him for six months for driving without insurance and disqualified him from driving for two years.
On the charge of drink driving, Judge O’Hagan sentenced O’Donnell to six months and disqualified him for two years, while he took the charge of having no valid NCT into consideration.
All charges are to run concurrently.
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