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Monday 10 December 2018

Driver who killed two pals - 'I'd do anything to change that night'

Dermot Dowd
Dermot Dowd

A drunk driver from Dublin who killed two women after an alcohol and drugs binge has said he would do anything to take back what he did.

Friends Kiara Baird (19) and Maria Wallace (38) died when Dermot Dowd lost control of his car outside Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on September 21, 2016.

Dowd (24) initially tried to claim that Ms Wallace, a mother-of-three, was driving the Citroen C3 car which crashed at Glenfin Road.

He later admitted drinking for hours in a local bar with the two women before getting behind the wheel.

Ms Baird died at the scene while Ms Wallace died a short time later in hospital after both had been thrown out of the car during the horrific crash.

Jailed

Dowd pleaded guilty before Letterkenny Circuit Court to dangerous driving causing death and last February he was jailed for five years and banned from driving for 15 years by Judge John Aylmer.

Dowd again appeared at Letterkenny Courthouse yesterday to face the relatives of the dead women during the victims' inquests.

The Dubliner, of Donegal Road, Ballybofey, told how he met Ms Wallace and Ms Baird at Bonner's Bar in Ballybofey earlier that morning.

Both women were drinking and he said he drank a number of pints, as well as vodka and whiskey. He also said that he had some cannabis and that everyone was in good form.

They decided to go to Ms Wallace's house and the women asked Dowd to drive the Citroen car as they did not want to.

They called into the local Centra supermarket, where they purchased two crates of Budweiser beer.

Dowd said that none of the three were wearing seat belts while in the car.

He then said he slowed up toward a bend while on the way to Ms Wallace's house but the car started to slide and then he suddenly heard a bang.

He said he looked around, the women were gone and that it had all happened so quickly.

"I'm sorry and I would do anything to change what happened," he added.

Garda Michelle Kelly said she had been on patrol in the area at the time and was flagged down by another driver.

When she arrived at the scene, she saw two young women lying on the ground parallel to each other and a man kneeling down holding one of them.

She said Ms Baird had a substantial amount of blood coming from her nose and was not breathing.

Gardai delivered CPR, as well as chest compressions, and they eventually got a defibrillator but did not deliver a shock.

Ms Baird was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.

Ms Wallace was taken from the scene by ambulance but was pronounced dead at Letterkenny University Hospital.

Garda forensic collision investigator Gerry McCauley said he could not give an exact speed at which the car was travelling but confirmed it was "considerably over the speed limit".

He said the car hit a lamp post and was thrown 33 metres into the lay-by of a nearby yard.

Pathology reports for both women said their deaths were due to head injuries as a result of a road traffic accident.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley offered his sympathy and said it was simply "an awful tragedy".

Ms Baird's mother, Tracey Baird, addressed the court and said she wanted to thank Dowd for staying with her daughter after the accident.

"After the accident, there were a lot of horrible rumours, especially about Mr Dowd, and today we got a few answers. Thank you for that," she said.

"We now realise he helped Kiara in her last hours and we want to thank him for holding her and being there."

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