Drunk driver refused to slow down despite repeated requests by passengers

A woman was seriously injured by the dangerous driving of a young man in the early hours, at Well Rd, Cork City, despite repeated requests by his passengers to slow down.

Ciaran Fitzpatrick, of Woodleigh, Lehenamore, Togher, Cork, was remanded in custody until November 20 for sentencing.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “This matter deserves a substantial custodial sentence.

“It is at the higher end of offences of this type.”

The judge was alarmed by the number of aggravating factors in the case.

“The driving was dangerous, he failed to respond to requests from within the car to slow down, he was drinking, he was speeding, he had no insurance,” said Judge Ó Donnabháin.

“He was doing all the things that make young people dangerous on the road.”

Fitzpatrick, aged 21, who is a music student, pleaded guilty to charges on August 10 last year at Well Rd, he drove dangerously, causing serious bodily harm to Niamh Bruton, and he had no insurance or licence. There was no separate charge of drink driving but this was referred to in evidence and remarked upon by the judge.

Garda Orla Leahy said that the Ford Mondeo crashed after 3am. She found Ms Bruton slumped on the footpath and the defendant talking to her but she was unresponsive.

At first, the accused claimed they were struck by a taxi that sped off. Gardaí found he had the key of the crashed Mondeo in his pocket. It was only afterwards he admitted driving.

Elizabeth O’Connell SC said that, after the initial denial, Fitzpatrick was totally co-operative with the garda and had no previous convictions.

Noting the injured party’s upset that the accused had not apologised to her, Ms O’Connell said the defendant had been advised not to approach her.

Character witness Frank Joyce said the accused went somewhat off the rails, following the death of his father when Fitzpatrick was only 12 years old.

Ms Bruton told the court: “As a result of this accident, I spent nearly four months in CUH and Tallaght Hospital and almost two weeks in intensive care for life-threatening injuries such as a shattered pelvis, severe liver laceration, broken neck, and smashed jaw.

“That is among many of the injuries I sustained during the accident and I am still on strong medication to date to manage my pain.

“Because of this crash, I have essentially lost a year of my life as I was unable to return to college. I missed my grandad’s funeral.

“As a 21 year old girl, I am unable to do many of the activities a girl of my age should be able to do because of this traumatic event.

“I still cannot accept that I will never be how I was before because of this accident.

“I will also need major surgery within the year and hip replacement. There’s still more pain to come.

“Another major disappointment is that during my most critical period in hospital, not one attempt was made by the defendant or his family to ask how I was doing or how my family was coping.

“I didn’t receive an apology during that time and this really upsets me as I’m suffering the consequences of his actions.”


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