The teenaged driver who admitted dangerous driving causing the death of 16-year-old Kimberly O’Connor in Cork one year ago was sentenced to four years in detention today.
Daniel Wyse, 17, of 21 Killiney Heights, Knocknaheeny, Cork, pleaded guilty to that fatal offence and seriously injuring a teenage boy who was also in the car when it crashed in a residential area on the north side of Cork City on February 19 last year.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a sentence of eight years with the last four years suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
The judge said that Kimberly O’Connor was an energetic, enthusiastic and idealistic teenager who lost her life when the car which Daniel Wyse was driving crashed into a pillar in Knocknaheeny.
Judge Ó Donnabháin accepted that the accused had expressed remorse today but he said this was undermined by the fact that he fled the scene after the crash and failed to give himself up to gardaí for weeks, if not months, afterwards.
Kimberly O’Connor was a front passenger when the car crashed near her home in Cork. Her mother, Jennifer Haynes, said she was haunted by the sound of the crash which she heard from her home and would never forget.
The 17-year-old defendant could not be named before now because he is a juvenile. However, this ban was lifted in the public interest by the judge today. He disqualified Wyse from driving for 15 years and said it was a matter of public interest for anyone who might see him driving in the future to report him.
The deceased could not be named previously because of a Court of Appeal interpretation of the Children’s Act. However, Judge Ó Donnabháin also lifted that disqualification too and said Kimberly’s mother, Jennifer Haynes, had correctly stated that she did not want her daughter to be anonymous in coverage of the case.
Ms Haynes said that her daughter’s name had been widely reported anyway before the proceedings against Daniel Wyse commenced.
Detective Garda Brian Holland told how the emergency services arrived at the scene just before midnight, they found the 16 year-old-girl fatally injured in the front seat of the badly damaged car and she was pronounced dead at the scene by a local doctor.
The 18-year-old rear-seat passenger had suffered serious injuries and he was removed from the car after firefighters cut off the roof and he was rushed to CUH to undergo surgery. His injuries included a fracture of the skull and many other fractures.
He has regained the use of his limbs but he is working with a speech and language therapist while he also suffers from post-traumatic amnesia and has no recollection of the collision.
Det. Garda Holland said Daniel Wyse was driving at a minimum of 119km per hour along a road which was governed by a 50kph speed limit when it crashed.
By video link from Oberstown, Daniel Wyse, said he made a huge decision to drive that night and it ended up costing his friend her life.
“Kimberly and her family will always be in my thoughts and prayers, may she rest in peace,” Daniel Wyse said today.
Daniel Wyse’s mother, Margaret O’Sullivan, said of her son: “I have never seen a child more remorseful for this tragic accident. He never set out for it to happen. I wonder is my son ever going to get through this.”
Ms O’Sullivan said she could not imagine the grief being experienced by Kimberly’s family and she expressed her family’s deep condolences to them.