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Friday 26 May 2017

'I needed a miracle, but it didn't come' - wife of man killed by banned driver

Claire Doyle
Claire Doyle

The grieving widow of a councillor killed by a dangerous driver, who was banned at the time, said she was waiting for a miracle that didn't happen.

Kildare councillor Willie Crowley (65) died after he was struck by speeding Damien Klasinski (29), on Eyre Street in Newbridge, Co Kildare, on December 15, 2015.

Klasinski, who had already been banned from driving for previous offences, pleaded guilty.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard he was speeding and didn't brake when his uninsured car struck Mr Crowley.

Shattered

In a heartbreaking victim impact statement, his wife Claire Doyle told how her life came apart.

"I was driven to Naas hospital by a member of the gardai," she said.

"Nothing could have prepared me for what awaited me there - my husband Willie's battered, bruised and broken body, his shattered skull and some hours later the devastating news that there was nothing that could be done because of the severity of the brain injuries.

"I spent the next three days and nights at Willie's bedside hoping against hope for a miracle.

"The miracle did not happen.

"Willie never regained consciousness after being hit by the car. I said goodbye to my husband on Friday, December 18 in an ICU ward where he was incubated.

"The brutal violence of his death shocked me to my core - a shock that has yet to leave me," she said.

She described how Mr Crowley was a volunteer who cooked the Christmas feast in the community each year.

She said her husband was "the love of my life," and added that while prayers were being said for the driver at her husband's funeral, Klasinski was "hiding in a cupboard with a packed suitcase, instead of facing up to the recklessness of his actions".

Klasinski, of The Oaks, Newbridge, who drove off after hitting Mr Crowley, told the passengers in the car: "What am I supposed to do?"

After his arrest he told gardai he had panicked.

"I am very sorry. It was an accident. I'm really hoping this man recovers," he said.

Detective Garda Sergeant James O'Sullivan told prosecuting counsel Lorcan Staines that Mr Crowley was walking home from the pub on the night but was not intoxicated.

He was crossing the street when Klasinski's car struck him.

Klasinski met an oncoming vehicle and the street was too narrow for both vehicles to pass.

He swerved in without braking to let the vehicle pass and swerved out again.

Mr Crowley had been waiting behind the other vehicle and was standing in the middle of the road.

Witnesses estimated that Klasinski was driving at speeds of up to 80kph.

It had rained earlier in the day making the road wet and the street lighting was poor.

Judge Melanie Greally said Klasinski was driving at a speed far too fast for the conditions on the night.

She adjourned the case to May 12 for sentencing.

Remorse

Mr Staines said the prosecution was taken on the basis that the accused was driving at an unsafe speed in circumstances where the ground was wet and on a dark winter night in an area where people were around.

The court heard Klasinski, a Polish national, had 13 previous convictions mainly for road traffic offences, including being disqualified from driving for two years for driving without insurance in November 2015 and being convicted of drunk driving earlier that year.

A prison chaplain said Klasinski felt profound remorse.

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