herald

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Firefighter who had 12 to 15 pints in pub before fatal hit-and-run jailed

Victim Callum Grimes
Victim Callum Grimes

A volunteer fireman who had up to 16 drinks before he knocked down a young man, leaving him fatally injured by the side of a road, has been jailed for five and a half years.

Derek Keane (40) was sentenced over the death of Callum Grimes (28), who was found unconscious with serious head injuries in a layby in north county Dublin in late 2016.

He died in hospital seven months later.

Keane, of The Cottage, Loughshinny, Skerries, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Grimes at Loughshinny on December 27 that year. He also admitted failing to offer assistance.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Keane had drunk between 12 and 15 pints of Guinness and a gin and tonic before taking his van home from the pub.

Callum had been walking home alone in the early hours after Christmas celebrations in a pub with friends but was alert to traffic and not impaired by alcohol. Keane had no memory of the collision, or of driving home, but went to gardai after he woke up, saw the damage to his van and heard there had been an incident on the road.

Sentencing him, Judge Martin Nolan said the amount Keane had drunk had rendered him "insensible" and incapable of having control of his vehicle.

Callum's father Mark Grimes said in a victim impact statement the family would never be the same after the loss of their "blue-eyed boy." Callum's mother Catherine was unable to come to court because she was undergoing cancer treatment.

Derek Keane
Derek Keane

Keane, a father-of-three and electrician and volunteer firefighter, offered a "deep apology" and said he would live with the shame for the rest of his life.

Det Sgt Sean Pender told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting, that a bread delivery man, Paul Fitzpatrick, came across Callum lying by the road at 8.10am.

He was still breathing, but his breath was laboured. Mr Fitzpatrick called emergency services and a passing nurse pulled in to help. Callum was brought to Beaumont Hospital for treatment for a serious head injury, but his condition deteriorated and he never regained consciousness, dying on July 14.

Keane attended Balbriggan Garda Station at 12.55pm on December 27 and said he had been at his uncle's pub in Skerries for 12 hours. He had one prior conviction - for speeding.

In his victim impact statement, Mark Grimes said Callum had been a "shy boy who loved life", a gifted artist and amateur chef who loved to travel with his girlfriend Ash.

He spent his last few hours having fun with a large group of friends. Callum's family and girlfriend would never be the same again.

Crucial

"We struggle in the name of all that's decent, Mr Keane, to understand how you killed our son and left him on the side of the road," he said.

"I believe that these hours could have been crucial, and wonder if you had done the decent thing and got help immediately, would Callum still be here with us."

"I would like some day to find the grace to forgive but this day is not it," he added.

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