At last week’s sitting of Carrick-on-Shannon Circuit Court Caitriona Leonard was convicted of careless driving causing the death of Glenn Carty on Saturday, August 5, 2017 at Cloonchair, Mohill, Co Leitrim.
Giving evidence against Ms Leonard, Hamilton Place, Trim, Co Meath, who pleaded guilty to the offence at a May sitting of the court, Sgt Ronan Mooney said the defendant was travelling from Lough Rynn Castle, where she attended a family wedding the previous day, towards a T-junction with the Rynn Road which is governed by a stop sign and line. From here she intended to turn right to travel in the direction of Mohill.
Glenn Carty from Drum, Ballygawley, Co Sligo was said to have been travelling towards the junction on his motorcycle with Sgt Mooney commenting: “he was driving well below the speed limit of 80kmh.”
The motorcycle came into contact with the front right hand side of the car propelling Mr Carty over the bonnet before he came into contact with the road.
A statement from Ron Johnson, who approached the junction before the motorcycle, was read in court. Mr Johnson said he saw the car driven by Ms Leonard coming from the junction and he thought she was going to keep going but then she reversed.
The statement from Mr Johnson said he continued on and observed Mr Carty approaching. When he looked in his mirror he observed the collision.
A statement from a second motorist, Padraig Quinn said the car was stopped across the roadway and the motorcycle made contact with it.
The emergency services were called and treatment was administered on the roadside but Mr Carty was declared dead at the scene.
The court heard Ms Leonard was breathalysed at the scene and she passed that test.
Sgt Mooney described the road conditions and visibility when he said: “She didn’t see Glenn’s motorcycle until the very last second, until the point of impact. She thought the road was clear, that was the basic contention.”
Sgt Mooney continued: “At that junction you come to a stop but then you move out slowly. Even though you have visibility you are still nervous.”
He said the viewing distance Ms Leonard would have had as she looked to the direction Mr Carty was travelling from was between 110 and 126metres.
Sgt Mooney agreed that it was a “challenging junction.”
A prepared victim impact statement was read by Mr Carty’s mother, Eileen, in which she paid tribute to her son “who always brought out the best in everyone.”
She described him as “trustworthy”, “a great listener” and “a cheeky chappy with a signature smile”.
Speaking about the impact Glenn's death has had on her family, Ms Carty said: “It is without doubt the worst thing that ever happened our family. We struggle to believe we could have lost him in this way when he had reached such blissful happiness.”
She referred to motorcycles as one of his greatest passions and recalled he drove with such care he was known by his friends as ‘Miss Daisy’.
Ms Leonard urged “all drivers to look out for bikes” and stressed her family “have no ill feelings towards Caitriona and her family.”
Having heard the evidence Judge John Aylmer took into account the mitigating factors which he said were “numerous.”
He said he placed the offence “at the upper end of the scale of offences involving careless driving causing death.
“It involved a high level of culpability and I place it on the borderline of dangerous driving causing death.”
Judge Aylmer said when sentencing he must have regard for the deceased and his loved ones. He noted the maximum sentence is two years in prison and deemed the offence worthy of an 18 month sentence before taking into account the mitigating circumstances.
He also noted the mandatory disqualification period of four years.
Outlining those mitigating circumstances Judge Aylmer pointed to the fact the defendant has no previous convictions and “is a person otherwise of good character.” It was also noted that Ms Leonard “afforded full-cooperation” to gardaí.
He noted the defendant was “deeply remorseful” adding “the consequences have had a profound impact on her.”
Judge Aylmer also noted the “charitable and understanding approach taken by the [Carty] family.”
Judge Aylmer applied a conviction and sentenced Ms Leonard to one year in prison, suspended for a period of one year on condition she enters a bond of €100 and is of good behaviour and keeps the peace for one year. She was also disqualified from driving for a period of four years.