Man guilty of fleeing scene after striking boy, 6, as he crossed road avoids jail

A six-year-old boy was fatally injured when struck by a car more than three years ago — yesterday the motorist pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene to get medical assistance.

Sergeant John Sharkey said the incident happened outside Ballymacoda, a village in east Cork, after the Luke O’Donovan had crossed the road to stand on a fence which would have enabled him to see if his friend had arrived home. His father, Steve O’Donovan, was repairing his car and thought his son was in the house playing with his Xbox.

As he crossed the road home, Luke was struck and fatally injured by a Ford Focus driven by Edmond Walsh, aged 51, of Ballyherode, Ballymacoda, on April 16, 2014. He died two days later.

Walsh’s front number-plate fell off in the collision. He drove home to ask his elderly father, since deceased, what he should do. When gardaí arrived at the house, he admitted he had been involved in an accident. Walsh pleaded guilty to charges of failing to remain at the scene of an accident and failing to offer assistance to someone injured in the accident.

Walsh was described as having mental challenges as a result of a head injury sustained years ago. There was a pre-trial legal process to establish if he was mentally fit to plead in the case. This process resulted in the delay.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a two-year jail sentence, which he suspended, and banned him from driving for 10 years.

James O’Mahony, defending, apologised to the O’Donovan family on behalf of Walsh and said he will never drive again irrespective of the disqualification.

Luke’s mother, Josephine O’Donovan, said in her victim impact statement: “We had Luke late in life. We were both in our 40s. We had given up on ever having children when we discovered Luke was on the way. The absolute joy he brought us was the most beautiful we had ever experienced in our lives.

“Nothing we have experienced would compare to the absolute joy of becoming Luke’s mum and dad.

“Luke developed a charming personality. When asked to sing he would make up his own song. He would dance at the sound of anything that remotely sounded like music with absolutely no inhibitions and sometimes no music at all. He talked for Ireland. Every occasion became so exciting. He was a popular child, loved school, and had to make friends everywhere he went.

“To have Luke taken from us so cruelly is beyond devastatingly painful. How do you describe a pain that is so intense, for which there is no pain relief, and a sadness that is so immense that it touches every occasion, joyous or sad? It is difficult to find words that adequately describe it.

“Our world has ended but we continued to live. No parent should have to say goodbye to their child or have to organise their funeral when they should be organising their birthday party.

“I am now sentenced to life being a mother without her child and my husband a father without his child. Living through all the occasions without Luke that would have been so nice and beautiful if he was alive. Losing an only child means that this branch of the family tree has been brutally cut off and will never grow again.

“When Luke was alive our days revolved around all the things that kids do. Now we have to avoid it as it is too painful. So now we will have to journey on without Luke and do our best to live our lives in honour of him.”


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