“She was an unbelievable child. She had everything going for her — dreams, high hopes, everything. All taken away from her."
Those were the words of heartbroken mum Jennifer Haynes, who is still haunted by the sound of a car crash that killed her 16-year-old daughter, Kimberly O'Connor.
A teenager, who admitted dangerous driving causing the death of Kimberly in Cork a year ago, was today sentenced to four years in detention.
Daniel Wyse, aged 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 northside of Cork City on February 19 last year.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a sentence of eight years with the last four years suspended.
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.
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.
Kimberly 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 and said Kimberly’s mother had correctly stated that she did not want her daughter to be anonymous in coverage of the case.
Of the sentence handed down, Ms Haynes said: "This gives the family a little peace that we got justice for Kimberly.
Because of a Covid outbreak at Oberstown detention centre in Dublin, Wyse could not appear in Cork Circuit Criminal Court in person and instead spoke by video link.
“I am sorry from the bottom of my heart. My actions have taken your beautiful daughter," he said.
“It has been a nightmare. I will live the rest of my life with regret for taking someone else’s life.
“I made a huge decision that night to drive … taking my own friend’s life.”
Wyse’s mother, Margaret O’Sullivan, said the nightmare would remain in their lives also.
“It has turned Daniel’s and our lives upside down.
"He never brought any grief or trouble before. Since that night he has suffered severe anxiety, depression, and nightmares.
Ms O’Sullivan said she could not imagine the grief experienced by Kimberly’s family and she expressed her family’s deep condolences to them.
“This never-ending nightmare will never leave out hearts and our conscience."
Ms Haynes recalled the night her daughter died in her victim impact statement.
“I was waiting for my daughter to come home and I jumped with horror from the bang outside my door.
"With severe fright, we ran to the front door to discover the fatal car crash,” she said.
“I rang my daughter’s phone to see where she was. Her phone at this stage was ringing out. Little did I realise at that point that my child was lying dead in the car that had crashed in front of our house.
Kimberly’s sister, Shannon, also told how she will never be the same person after Kimberly’s death.
“Her death has changed me as a person mentally and I will never be able to accept it or get over it. I miss her so much and knowing I will not see her again until it is my day, kills me,” she said.
Kimberly’s sister, Britney, said, “It is so sad to be praying to your baby sister at night. She should be here, not in heaven.
"We have to visit a graveyard every day to be with my sister. We can’t hug and kiss her at night. My heart is so broke won’t ever be filled again until I see my sister again.”