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Sunday 27 May 2018

Former boxing champ jailed over crash that left mum in wheelchair

Sean Ward
Sean Ward

A former boxing champion who drove head on into a car containing a woman and her nine-month-old son, causing her catastrophic injuries, has been jailed for four years.

Dundalk Circuit Court heard that Sean Ward (27), of Oldbridge, Toberona, Dundalk, had 65 previous convictions and was banned from driving at the time of the crash.

Witnesses told gardai he overtook cars at high speed before crashing into the other car on the wrong side of the road at Carnbeg, Dundalk, on October 3, 2015.

Ward admitted dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to the woman (29), who, the court heard, had taken evasive action.

She and her son were on their way to meet her work colleagues for coffee on a Saturday morning.

She told gardai: "All I could see was a Ford Focus coming at high speed towards us."

She flashed her lights and sounded the horn but realised there would be a collision and swerved to her left. She heard a bang that she said she would "never forget".

When the woman came to, she feared the driver of the other car was dead. Her son was screaming and she managed to turn around to hold his hand.

She pleaded with people who came over to her to take her baby out of the car because smoke was coming from it.

She was in pain and could see three bones sticking out of her right foot.

The woman was cut out of the car and the pain was so bad that she lost consciousness.

She suffered broken bones in her back, fractured ribs and the bones in both feet were "smashed and crushed", said Kevin Segrave, prosecuting.

She has had 10 further operations as well as skin grafts and was in hospital for three months after the crash.

Her home had to be adapted to be wheelchair-accessible, she could not be left alone to care for her son and cannot walk or drive.

Gda Sgt Freda McCague told Judge Michael O'Shea that the woman was in hospital and as a result could not attend court or provide a victim impact statement.

Devastating

The statement was instead given by her husband, who said she now lived with chronic pain, had serious injuries to her lower limbs and back and would need to learn to walk again.

He said they were unable to plan for more children and this "is devastating for us".

The court heard Ward was also seriously injured and it was his second serious crash. The other was in 2013 when he suffered head injuries.

When gardai interviewed him, he said he had been on the right side of the road and had been trying to avoid a car coming towards him on the wrong side of the road.

The witnesses who said he was on the wrong side were "telling lies", he said.

His barrister, Roddy O'Hanlon, said he apologised for the content of his interview and he was on medication at the time.

He was remorseful and accepted responsibility for what happened. He accepted he should not have been behind the wheel of the car.

He said Ward was from the Traveller community and had been a boxing champion in 2008 and 2009.

As a result of the accident, he had suffered a personality change and loss of memory.

Passing sentence, Judge O'Shea said the effects of the crash were catastrophic for the woman and her husband, and her injuries were "shocking and horrific in the extreme".

"It has turned their life literally upside down. She will never make a full recovery from the catastrophic injuries she suffered," he said.

He added that Ward should not have been driving and "if he had complied with the disqualification there would not have been a collision".

He jailed him for six years for dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm, with the last two years suspended, and for five months for no insurance.

He also disqualified him for 10 years and six years respectively. All sentences are to run concurrently.

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