Lisa Roohan, 25, who admitted careless driving and giving false information to gardai about a road accident, was given a suspended jail term of 18 months today(Thurs), fined €1,000 and banned from driving for four years.
Judge John Aylmer said he accepted from Garda evidence that culpability of careless driving was at the lower end of the scale, notwithstanding the unfortunate consequence of the death of Alan McSherry.
The judge said the death was not an aggravating factor as there was no evidence of speeding by Ms Roohan and there was no time for her to take evasive action when she saw Mr McSherry lying on the ground at Ardfarna Bundoran on August 25, 2013.
But he said Roohan “clearly went into blind panic” over the following 18 days when she gave false information- and that was in the mid-range of aggravation.
Earlier, Donegal Circuit court was told that the McSherry couple were socialising the night before and wife Jo went home early because she was working next morning.
When she awoke at 4.45 a.m. she drove out to find Alan and saw him lying on the road nearby. He had a head injury and was still breathing, shallowly. She tried to apply CPR and the emergency call operator talked her through it but the attempts were not successful.
Mr McSherry’s widow Joanne – known to friends as Jo – told Donegal Circuit Court in a victim impact statement: “I lost my husband and partner of 30 years. It’s unbearable. I lost my soul mate.”
She added: “The world is a poorer place without him. He gave of his time and that is a gift that is more precious than diamonds. He was a diamond.
“None of us will ever see his cheeky smile again except in our dreams.
His life has been extinguished and myself, his family and friends, must deal with that to the end of our days.”
The court heard how Alan, a handyman and keen surfer, and Jo moved to Ireland from Birkenhead in 2000 to live in Bundoran because of their love of surfing.
Ms Roohan, a restaurant cook of Boyannagh, Bundoran, said in the court witness box: “There isn’t a day that goes past that I don’t think about Alan and what happened on that awful night; that I don’t think about Joanne and the McSherry family.
“The horror is there at night before I go to sleep. I want this nightmare to end. I just want to apologise for the hurt I’ve caused.”
Roohan, of Boyannagh, Bundoran, had been charged with dangerous driving causing death since June 2014, but it was dropped and replaced with the careless driving charge earlier this week.