The family of a woman who died days after sustaining serious injuries in a car crash caused by an 85-year-old driver said elderly drivers should be tested more rigorously and their family members should take responsibility for their parents’ transport.
John Sexton, aged 85, of Sunview, Courtmacsherry, Bandon, Co Cork, pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of dangerous driving causing serious harm.
The particulars of the charge were that on February 9, 2016, at N71 roadway, Tulligee, Clonakilty, Co Cork, he drove dangerously, thereby causing serious bodily harm to Carmel Daly.
Judge Gerard O’Brien noted the family of the late Mrs Daly did not want to see Mr Sexton jailed. He disqualified him from driving for 10 years and imposed a €3,000 fine on him. The judge said it had been a nightmare for the Daly family and extended his deepest sympathy to them.
Garda Brendan Cahill testified Mrs Daly sustained a fractured femur in the accident. Six days later, she died in hospital. Siobhán Lankford, prosecuting, said, “In relation to the cause of death, the accident would have been a trigger for a cascade of events but the injuries sustained in the accident itself were not fatal.”
Garda Cahill said the injured party was a front seat passenger in a car being driven by her daughter, Loretta Daly, from Rosscarberry towards Clonakilty when the defendant emerged from a side road.
Ms Daly saw his jeep come over the white line at the stop sign and presumed he was going to stop but he kept coming on to the main road and drove directly into the path of her car, making it impossible for her to avoid a collision.
There were no aggravating factors such as speed, alcohol or use of a phone.
Seamus Roche, defending, said the defendant had not driven since and would not drive again. His daughter Rosemarie extended the sympathies of the Sexton family to the Daly family and said the time had come for her father to stop driving, and the family would be driving him wherever he needed to go in the future.
Mr Sexton expressed his remorse and said he never intended to harm anyone.
Loretta Daly said they had taken a decision that their mother could no longer drive safely because of health issues and they took responsibility for her transport.
She said her mother was very active right up to the day of the accident and had been wondering what to wear at her grandson’s Communion and was also looking forward to going to Killarney to see Nathan Carter perform.
Imelda Daly, another daughter of the late Carmel Daly, suggested in her victim impact statement that senior drivers should be looked at very closely by the authorities in terms of their reactions before their licences were renewed.
She also said families should step in to drive their parents’ places as their parents had done for them when they were children.
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