A Cork woman whose 21st birthday is next week was found not guilty today of dangerous driving causing the death of two young men in North Cork in August of last year but she said afterwards that she would live with what had happened for the rest of her life.
Theresa Dingivan of Pearse Square in Fermoy, was on trial for the last five days after she pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving at Strawhall, Fermoy, Co Cork, causing the deaths of 19-year-old James Sexton and 22-year-old Michael Murphy, at 9pm on Sunday night, August 5 2007.
The jury of seven men and five women took one-and-a-half hours to return their unanimous verdict clearing her of the charge at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on the fifth day of the trial. Families of the deceased did not comment afterwards and asked for their privacy to be respected.
John Brooks, solicitor, said on behalf of Ms Dingivan, “Obviously she is very relieved with the decision of the court. The events of August 5 will live with her unfortunately for the rest of her life.
“She and her family have the greatest sympathy for the Murphy and Sexton families. She is sorry she had to put them through the ordeal of the court for the last five days. Her sympathies lie with those families. It is just one terrible tragedy.”
Judge Patrick J. Moran told the jury before they retired to consider their verdict that they could take into consideration the experience of the defendant; she had been driving her 1994-registered Honda Civic for two months prior to the accident and was on a first provisional license.
He said they had to consider all the circumstances including speed, road and weather conditions and other matters.
Judge Moran sympathized with the Sexton and Murphy families in the absence of the jury but he told the jurors, “Do not be influenced by the awful tragedy that the relatives have suffered or indeed that the young woman Ms Dingivan – who is 21 next week – has faced in this trial.”
Drawing a comparison between the lesser charge of manslaughter being returned in a murder case, he said they could find the defendant in the present case guilty of careless driving if they were not satisfied to find her guilty of dangerous driving causing death.
In the end they simply found her not guilty of dangerous driving causing the deaths.