herald

Tuesday 30 May 2017

'I have nothing against driver who left my wife in a wheelchair for life'

Patrick Maher. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Patrick Maher. Photo: Caroline Quinn

The husband of a Dublin woman left with catastrophic injuries after she was knocked off her bicycle by a driver who had not turned on his headlights has said he bears no ill will towards the man.

Robert Faherty (63) had driven for just 200 metres before crashing into cyclist Grainne Duncan (45), who was attempting to turn right but did not see him, in Coolock on February 4, 2015.

Despair

The momentary lapse of concentration has left two families in despair - one coping with life-changing injuries and the other facing lifelong remorse over the incident.

Grainne, who is also known as Dorian, has been left wheelchair-bound, deaf, unable to speak, and with short- and medium-term memory loss.

She needs constant care and is currently living in a nursing home.

Faherty, of Elton Walk, Ard na Greine, Dublin, was given a nine-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to careless driving causing serious harm.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard this week from a psychiatric report describing his "real, palpable and significant" distress and remorse at the results of his driving.

Speaking from his Coolock home, Grainne's husband, Patrick Maher, said there were "no winners" from the incident.

"It was an accident. Everybody makes mistakes. I can see it for what it is, so I have nothing against Mr Faherty," said Patrick.

"I never wanted a prison sentence for him, not from the day it happened. Maybe a driving ban for a specified period was warranted, but I was never looking for prison for him.

Patrick Maher with his wife Grainne
Patrick Maher with his wife Grainne

"He had just got off a bus, got into his car, which was parked, and started his journey when it happened.

"Grainne used to get the bus to work in Malahide, but she traded in her tax-saver bus ticket for the bike-to-work scheme and hadn't been back cycling for long when the accident happened.

"She had a helmet on, lights on her bike, and a hi-viz jacket.

"She is now in St Doolagh's Park in Clongriffin in long-term care, and I go and see her every day, but we hope someday to move to a house suitable for her needs, or build one for her.

"Our house here is not adaptable, so we will need to move in the future," he added.

Patrick said their lives changed utterly the day of the accident.

"Grainne has memory problems. She retains everything from before the crash, but anything afterwards she can't retain," he said.

Complex

"If people from the past visit her she will remember them without difficulty, but an hour after they have gone she won't remember they visited. It's complex.

"Being deaf and unable to speak properly means we communicate with a white board, which has its drawbacks. But Grainne is my wife.

"What has happened has happened, and caring for her without going to pieces is what I look upon as my greatest achievement in life," he added.

Patrick and Grainne met 23 years ago at a gaming convention.

"It was a Dungeons & Dragons convention organised by Gaelcon," Patrick told the Herald.

"I still go, and relate back to Grainne on them afterwards. But that's where we met. We got married 10 years ago."

During the court case, Judge Pauline Codd said this was not a typical case of careless driving and there was a difference between a person engaged in patently dangerous behaviour and a momentary lapse of attention by a driver.

She did not impose a ban on Faherty's driving after hearing that he uses his car on a daily basis and that his own father, who lives in Galway, is in ill health.

Grainne was in a coma for two months after the accident and only became aware of her situation recently, which has resulted in her requiring treatment for depression.

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