Drunk driver who left friend to die gets four years

A driver who left his dying friend in a car which he crashed after consuming up to eight drinks has been jailed for four years by Judge Frank O'Donnell in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A driver who left his dying friend in a car which he crashed after consuming up to eight drinks has been jailed for four years by Judge Frank O'Donnell in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today.

Paul Warner (aged 24) was doing "handbrake turns" in the Phoenix Park late at night when his car crashed into a metal fence and one of the rails fatally impaled 16-year-old Mark Carroll who was in the passenger seat.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death on Wellington Road in the park.

Garda Sergeant Aidan Hannon told prosecuting counsel, Mr Noel Devitt BL, that in the early hours of April 8, 2008, Warner, of North Circular Road, Dublin 7, was showing the victim a car he was planning to sell to him.

Witness Soracha Scanlon told gardaí she heard tires squealing and an engine revving and saw a car go "screaming past" the carpark. She said when she was leaving the park she saw the car at the fence with its doors open and lights on.

She alerted gardaí before she looked inside the car and found the body of Mr Carroll. She said she knew he was dead and the railing had come through the car and pierced his chest. Gardaí cordoned off the scene and found documents in the car addressed to Warner.

The next day they called to his house and arrested him. He told gardaí he was out drinking that day and had up to eight bottles and pints. He admitted he was driving dangerously in the park and was going at 50 mph when he lost control of the car and collided with the fence.

He said he released his seat belt and tried to release Mr Carroll's but "it was stuck". He claimed Mr Carroll was conscious and told him to go. He said he fled out of the park, stopping someone along the way to ask them to call an ambulance. He then went to his girlfriend's house.

He said it was only afterwards that he realised how bad the victim's injuries were. He told gardaí Mr Carroll was encouraging him to drive dangerously. He also claimed he was intending to hand himself in to gardaí at some point.

Gda Sgt Hannon said Warner's father was killed in a motorcycle accident several years ago. He said he was very cooperative in interview and "shouldered all the blame".

Defence counsel, Mr Patrick Marrinan SC (with Ms Caroline Biggs BL), read out a letter written by his client apolgising to Mr Carroll's family and saying he "would have done everything differently".

He said Warner, who works for Dublin City Council, wished he had died in the accident and has since contemplated suicide several times.

Judge O'Donnell acknowledged Warner's remorse and suspended the final two years of the sentence.

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