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Saturday 1 October 2016

Driver who mowed down 'hero' mother who saved her baby pleads guilty

Devastating scene after the crash. Collins
Devastating scene after the crash. Collins

A man has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of mum Olivia Dunne in Balbriggan, who was out walking with her baby in a pram at the time.

Ms Dunne (32) was credited with saving the life of her four-month-old baby daughter, Eabha, by pushing her out of the path of the oncoming vehicle when the horrific accident happened.

The primary school teacher was on maternity leave and out strolling with her baby just minutes from the family home when the tragedy happened in January 2014.

Anthony Handley (64) of Whitethorn Grove, Artane, Dublin, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Mrs Dunne and serious bodily harm to Eabha Dunne in Balbriggan on January 17, 2014.

Onlookers described how an out-of-control car mounted the pavement and struck her and the buggy.

Her husband, Ciaran, who was at work as a greenkeeper at nearby Balbriggan Golf Club, was on the scene shortly afterwards.

He was said to be "inconsolable" at the tragic incident.

The couple had married just 18 months beforehand in July 2012.

Ms Dunne died instantly and her baby was rushed to hospital, where she was put into an induced coma.

The little girl reportedly suffered two broken legs and was treated at Temple Street Children's Hospital, and faced weeks of medical treatment following the accident.

Heartbroken Ciaran, along with his mother, remained with his wife's body until the remains were taken away by ambulance for a post-mortem.

Shawl

At her funeral at St Peter and Paul's Church, baby Eabha's christening shawl was laid on the young mother's coffin.

It was the same church in which Olivia and Ciaran had been married just months beforehand.

Fr Declan Kelly reminded mourners of the wedding vows then taken by the couple, in which they had promised to love one another "in sickness and in health, all the days of our lives".

"Little did we know that we'd be here together such a short time after the joyful wedding," he said at the time.

Fr Kelly added that the couple had been "in the morning of their dreams, with both hands reaching out to life".

But, without warning "all their dreams were shattered".

The family and friends of Mrs Dunne said she was responsible for saving the life of her only child by desperately pushing the buggy away from the path of the oncoming vehicle.

Among the mourners were Health Minister James Reilly, Olivia's parents Margaret and Seamus, her brother Derek and sisters Marguerite and Caroline.

In a touching tribute, Ms Dunne's young pupils from St Colmcille's NS in Swords, north county Dublin, stood in a solemn guard of honour in their green uniforms as the coffin left the church.

The incident occurred shortly after 12.30pm near the entrance to the Balbriggan Retail Park near the White Hart Inn, within a short distance of the young family's home.

After Mr Handley's guilty plea, Judge Patricia Ryan adjourned the matter at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing on May 10 next, when evidence in the case will be heard.

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