A taxi driver who admitted perverting the course of justice in a road traffic accident in which a young cyclist lost his life near Killarney, has been given a three-year suspended sentence.
Rabiul Alam, aged 39, of Countess Grove, Killarney, told the garda at the scene near a junction on the main Killarney to Dingle Road he had not been in collision with 19-year-old Shane Courtney’s bike.
He said another car which was travelling immediately behind him was the car which had struck the cyclist, Tralee Circuit Criminal Court had heard previously.
The accident happened on August 26, 2011, at Knoggogue, Aghadoe, Killarney. Alam signed his statement in the patrol car. However, seven days later, on September 2, he went to the Garda station in Killarney to correct his “untruths” and to say his vehicle was the one in collision with Mr Courtney.
Gardaí had forensically examined the matter and no prosecution regarding the collision arose, the court had been told.
Sentencing, Judge Thomas O’Donnell said: “This is a deeply distressing case compounded by the actions of the accused, and his efforts to blame a third party completely reprehensible.”
However the judge said the offence Alam was charged with was “not a driving offence per se but something that arose in the aftermath of this tragic accident”.
Tom Rice prosecuting told the court the Courtney family, who were present in court, wished to make a victim impact statement but were precluded from doing so by legislation “because of the nature of the charge.”
Mr Courtney, an extremely bright student at UCC, was studying mechanical engineering and was a keen sports man, the court was told.
Alam had been travelling in his taxi on the Dingle to Killarney Road on the evening of August 26 at around 9pm, the court had heard.
Mr Courtney, of Faha, Killarney, had gone for a cycle that evening, and to the best of Garda knowledge intended turning right at a junction from the minor Aghadoe road onto the main Dingle road when he collided with Alam’s car which was travelling east towards Killarney, the prosecutor had outlined.
Alam, originally from Bangladesh but settled in Killarney for a number of years, was a hard-working man, held down two jobs, was a father of two young children and has no previous convictions, Judge O’Donnell noted.
He was shocked and had panicked on the night, Anthony Sammon SC had suggested.
The judge expressed his condolences to the Courtney family.
The accident happened in 2011 and it had taken “an enormous amount of time” to be finalised, the judge noted.
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