A BEAUTY therapist who catapulted a cyclist into the air, leaving him with catastrophic injuries, has been given a 12-month suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Sinead King (29) did not de-mist her car windows on the morning she set out to work.
She accepted that she could not see out properly, and later told gardai she had no idea she had knocked someone over.
King said she noticed four children playing on one side of the road and heard a loud bang.
She noticed that her windscreen was broken and assumed her former partner, with whom she'd had difficulties in the past, had attacked her car.
King drove on, leaving Peter Vaughan, a retired Englishman who had been visiting his son in Clondalkin, on the side of the road with his leg broken in three places, a broken eye socket and mild brain damage.
Mr Vaughan told gardai that he had taken his son's bicycle to the local shops and "was catapulted" into the air. He had seen no cars around and thought at first it was a gas explosion.
King, a mother of two, of Riverside, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious harm on Monastery Road, Clondalkin, on October 16, 2010.
She had one previous conviction for failing to give a breath sample and was banned from driving for four years in December 2010.
Garda Ruth Brett told Pieter Le Vert, prosecuting, that a passerby came to Mr Vaughan's assistance and called an ambulance. The same man also recovered debris from the road, which included a wing mirror and broken bits of plastic.
She said King arrived at the garda station four hours after the accident to report the damage done to her car. When the garda examined the vehicle she realised it was the one that had been involved in the accident.
King was cautioned, but maintained she had no idea she had knocked anyone down.
Garda Brett agreed with Paul Comiskey O'Keefe, defending, that there was no indication that King had been driving at excessive speeds, and she told gardai herself that she had been driving at 30kph. Mr Comiskey O'Keefe said his client had "made a simple error", but one that had serious consequences.
Judge Patrick McCartan accepted that King's remorse was genuine and said he didn't believe anything would be achieved by sending her to prison.
He then handed down a 12-month suspended sentence and banned King from driving for 10 years, but noted that she has "lost her nerve" and doesn't intend to drive again.
King took the stand to apologise, saying: "This guilt will never leave me. I was deeply shocked when I learned the extent of his injuries."
Mr Vaughan was not in court, but Mr Le Vert read his victim impact report, in which Mr Vaughan stated he had spent 12 months going to hospital appointments and undergoing minor operations, and was entirely dependent on his wife.
He was still at risk of infection in his leg because the bones had broken through the skin and he now walks with a limp.
Mr Vaughan stated he also suffered mild brain damage, which has left him short-tempered, absent-minded and emotional. He said medical staff believes this condition should rectify itself in three years, but he didn't see that happening. He said he felt "lucky to be alive".