Wednesday 25 April 2018

Drink-driver jailed for 7 years and 6 months for causing death of Ciaran (4)

A drink-driver whose dangerous driving caused the death of four-year-old Ciaran Treacy has been jailed for seven years and six months.

Finbarr O’Rourke (40) was found guilty and disqualified from driving for 20 years.

The court heard he was seven times over the legal limit for a professional driver – as he was a traveling salesman at the time.

Judge Keenan Johnson said that Finbarr O’Rourke would “have to live with the guilt of what happened” and that in itself was a life sentence.

Last week, Ciaran Treacy’s mother Gillian said that her whole life was “shattered” and she would “never forgive” the drunk driver who hit their car.

Ms Treacy was returning home to Portarlington, Co Laois, with her sons, Ciaran and Sean, on April 17, 2014, after spending a day with their grandparents.

In a heartbreaking victim-impact statement last week, Ms Treacy described how the collision left her “crushed and trapped” in the car as her sons screamed, waiting for “what felt like an eternity” for help.

“All of a sudden Ciaran became silent ... I then feared the worst ... I knew he had been badly injured or the unthinkable – dead,” she said.

At a sentencing hearing this morning, the judge himself became emotional and had to pause at one point as he described how in the blink of an eye, the “Treacys beautiful family was shattered”.

He said the victim impact statement was “one of the most powerful, harrowing, vivid and upsetting” he had ever read, describing it as a “wake-up call” for anyone who thought it was still acceptable to drink and drive.


Four-year-old Ciaran Treacy died following a car crash
Four-year-old Ciaran Treacy died following a car crash

“This victim-impact statement has done good service in focusing the minds of people and has kick-started a debate,” he said. He added that it was a fitting tribute to Ciaran.

O’Rourke, of Laurel Drive, Portlaoise, made no response as Judge Johnson sentenced him at Portlaoise Circuit Court.

The separated father-of-two took to the stand to apologise last week after he admitted dangerous driving.

Gillian Treacy was left in a wheelchair after the crash that killed her son, Ciaran
Gillian Treacy was left in a wheelchair after the crash that killed her son, Ciaran

“I never went out to hurt anybody that day,” he said.

Conor Devally SC said O’Rourke had entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity, had no previous convictions and was now attending Alcoholics Anonymous.

Ms Treacy suffered horrific injuries and after 10 surgeries, she may still need to have part of her leg amputated. She said she remembered seeing O’Rourke “slumped over the wheel” moments before the crash.

A family picture of Ciaran Treacy
A family picture of Ciaran Treacy

“He then got out of his car and ran ... failing to get medical assistance for us, this I will never forgive him for,” she said in the statement.

Ms Treacy said that hospital staff couldn’t tell her about Ciaran’s death because her condition was so critical, but her husband Ronan confirmed her “worst nightmare”.

She said that despite her many injuries, the worst “was the pain which came from my broken heart”.

The statement said the funeral was “a day that no parent should have to endure”.

“Family life will never be the same,” the statement continued. We will always wonder how life would have been.”

Meanwhile, O’Rourke was described in court as a kind, big-hearted individual who had raised money for Barnardos.

The judge said it was clear he was a decent man who had made a bad decision that night.

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