Woman awaits sentence for crushing man to death with car

A 25-year-old mother-of-one is to be sentenced on Monday for killing a man by crushing him with her car in Blanchardstown four years ago.

A 25-year-old mother-of-one is to be sentenced on Monday for killing a man by crushing him with her car in Blanchardstown four years ago.

Claire Nolan of Sheephill Green, Blancharstown had been tried for murder twice. The jury failed to agree on a verdict on both occasions.

The Director of Public Prosecutions accepted her plea of manslaughter last December.

The court heard she drove into father-of-four Michael Duffy (aged 66) and crushed him on January 26, 2008 but she told gardaí that she meant to knock down his son, Francis Duffy.

She said she “went mental” because she thought Francis Duffy, who suffers from a mild intellectual difficulty, was getting into her car.

Nolan, who was 21 at the time, had been in a gathering with friends in the house next door to Francis Duffy’s.

Sergeant Micheal Kennedy told Mr Patrick Gageby SC prosecuting that Nolan had just bought a Nissan Micra and “he may have been seen getting in and out of it”, which caused Nolan “to get very cross”.

He agreed Francis Duffy had a mild intellectual disability but had an independent existence. The court heard Nolan took a baseball bat and “beleaguered Mr Duffy over the head with it”.

Francis Duffy phoned his father and also rang Blanchardstown Garda Station and reported it.

Nolan got into the Micra and reversed it out at acceleration and it made a number of manouvres before crashing into Micheal Duffy’s taxi, which had just parked up. That crash caused a number of neighbours to wake up, the court heard.

Michael Duffy ran into the front garden of his son’s house and Nolan steered her car into the metal gates.

Michael Duffy suffered a crush injury against the house and Nolan then set fire to the car 300 yards away, the court heard.

Mr Duffy senior was pronounced dead in hospital and the pathologist’s report said he had a large trauma injury due to crushing.

Claire Nolan was interviewed and said she “went mental” after she said she received “digs”.

“I wanted to hit him (Francis) but I wanted to wreck the gaff as well. He was running all over the garden and the aul lad as well,” she said.

She said she intended to knock Francis down but said she did not want to cause him serious injury.

Nolan indicated she was sorry for knocking down Mr Duffy senior. She denied any intention to do serious harm to Francis.

The court heard Nolan has 15 previous convictions including a three-year suspended sentence in the Circuit Court for possession of cocaine for sale and supply committed on January 25, 2008 - the day prior to this incident.

“This offence was committed in the small hours after that offence but it was a great deal later before she was arrested,” said Mr Gageby.

Mr Brendan Grehan SC defending said a number of witnesses saw Nolan take cocaine that night and that a large amount of alcohol had been consumed. He said his client “takes full criminal responsibility” for what had happened.

Mr Grehan also said she had completed a residential treatment programme for addiction and that his client had not come to the adverse attention of the gardaí since.

“Mr Duffy’s death will always be with her and something she will regret for the rest of her life,” he added.

In a victim impact statement read by the deceased’s daughter-in-law Moira Duffy, she said the family had lost both parents within a year.

She said that January 26 - the date of his death - would continue to haunt the family.

“We were never given that opportunity to say goodbye, to tell him he was loved,” she said.

Ms Duffy said that the family lives “an emotional life sentence” wondering if Michael suffered at the end, or was frightened.

She said he paid the “ultimate price for his devotion” and “because he loved his son so much he laid down his life for him” resulting in his death “on a cold concrete driveway”.

Ms Duffy said Michael had helped Franics buy his house and had tried to give him independence but that the rest of the family now had to help him financially.

“Fran is the eldest of his children but needed his assistance the most,” she said. “Now Fran has also to live with the heavy burden of that night,” she added.

Mr Justice Paul Carney will hand down sentence for the manslaughter next Monday.

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