Parents in tearful plea as drunk driver who killed son (4) jailed
The parents of a four-year-old boy killed by a drunk driver have pleaded with motorists not to drink and drive, saying: "This is reality. This is what drink driving does."
Gillian and Ronan Treacy said their only hope is that the death of their beloved son, Ciaran (4) may stop somebody from doing this to another family.
They were speaking after Finbarr O'Rourke (40), of Laurel Drive in Portlaoise, was jailed for seven years and six months for dangerous driving causing death. Portlaoise Circuit Court heard he had consumed up to 10 pints and had intended staying the night with a friend on April 17, 2014. However after an argument ensued, O'Rourke got behind the wheel of his car with the intention of driving home.
As a travelling salesman, O'Rourke had consumed seven times the legal limit for a commercial traveller when his vehicle crossed the white line and ploughed into the Treacy family car.
Judge Keenan Johnson described the victim impact statement of Ronan and Gillian Treacy as one of the most "powerful, harrowing, vivid and upsetting that I have ever read."
And he said it served as a "wake-up call" that we as a society need in order to make it clear that drinking and driving is "neither socially nor morally acceptable".
After sentencing, Gillian said that her family's sentence began the day her car was hit by the drink driver. "Unfortunately we had to lose our little boy but hopefully this is going to put a stop to people doing this to other people," she said.
"This is reality, this is what drink driving does. Our family is destroyed, both the Ryan and Treacy family, so hopefully this stops some other people from doing this to another family," Gillian added.
She became emotional as she described Ciaran as "a beautiful child".
"He was the light of our lives, he was the energy in our home and that has been taken from us. A lovely witty, beautiful boy that shouldn't have been taken from us so brutally and suddenly by the actions of a drink driver," Gillian said.
"I would plead with everybody not to drink and drive. This is the result of drink driving, it devastates lives and I just hope nobody ever does this to another family," she said.
Gillian, who was seriously injured in the crash and who now faces further surgery, explained that she is "coping" and that she would accept her injuries "no problem" if it meant Ciaran could have survived.
Asked where she finds her strength, Gillian said "it comes from Ciaran absolutely. He is the one that keeps us going, and our other two kids, we have to be parents to them no matter what and they give us the strength to keep going."