The lives of a number of people have been severely affected by an ex-Garda Special Branch member who caused death and serious injury to others while drink driving, an inquest has heard.
A pensioner, Gordan Geary, 71, died and his wife Joy was severely injured when ex-garda Frank Hayes crashed into them at Enniskerry Road, Stepaside, on July 24, 2004.
An inquest into Mr Geary’s death heard just minutes earlier Mr Hayes, 53, had failed to stop after his Mercedes car hit two teenage girls – Natalie Woods and Edel Halligan.
Det Insp Martin Cummins of Blackrock Garda Station said: “The lives of a number of people have been severely impacted by this.”
He told the Dublin City Coroner’s Court that Ms Woods was left with severe head injuries and her recovery was ongoing.
Ms Woods, who was 17 when she was struck by Mr Hayes’ navy Mercedes, had part of her skull and brain removed at Beaumont Hospital due to brain swelling.
Mr Cummins said: “Joy Geary, the late Mr Geary’s widow, suffered horrendous injuries`. She suffered broken hips and legs.”
The jury passed a verdict of death by dangerous driving in line with the findings of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court which jailed Mr Hayes for five years on January 23 last.
Det Insp Cummins said Mr Hayes had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and a number of other charges in relation to the incidents on the night.
His alcohol intake was more than twice the legal limit.
Det Insp Cummins was the sole person giving evidence at the brief inquest as witnesses were heard during the trial.
The Geary family were represented in court by Corona Geary, the wife of Mr Geary’s son, David. His widow, Joy, who attended her husband’s funeral on a stretcher, was not present.
Det Insp Cummins said Mr Hayes was spotted leaving the Stackstown Golf Club on CCTV footage around 12.21am on July 24, 2004. He had played a golf tournament there, followed by a meal and alcohol.
Around 11.55pm, Joy and Gordon Geary had left a friend’s house in Redcross, Co Wicklow to drive to their home in Enniskerry.
The inquest heard around the same time, Ms Woods and Ms Halligan had left a 21st birthday party and were trying to hail a taxi on the Blackglen Road.
“At a point where there was no footpath, Frank Hayes collided with the girls throwing them up in to the air and onto a driveway,” Mr Cummins said.
Both girls were seriously injured, and Mr Hayes did not stop at the scene.
“He was observed by witnesses to slow down, look back and proceed at speed.”
The detective said: “It was the direct aftermath of this hit-and-run and the speed at which he was driving and consumed alcohol to over twice the legal limit that the tragic accident unfolded in which Gordon Geary lost his life.”
The inquest heard two men – David Kilroy and David Hunt – followed Mr Hayes after the hit-and-run. There was a verbal exchange but he broke a red light and drove off at speed.
“They lost him such was the speed,” Det Insp Cummins said.
“A short distance past Stepaside Village he drove around a bend, lost control of the car, mounted the footpath, hit a wall and careered across the road into the path of the oncoming vehicle of Joy and Gordon Geary.”
The strength of the impact turned Mr Geary’s silver Mercedes around on the road.
Mr Geary got out of the vehicle but collapsed and died. The inquest heard Mr Geary, from Orwell Road in Dublin 14, was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival in St Vincent’s Hospital on July 24, 2004.
The original post mortem, which was reviewed by State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy, found he died from coronary artery thrombosis due to blunt force trauma to the chest because of the impact.