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Thursday 20 June 2019

Parents claim crash victim 'got no justice' as driver is ruled not guilty due to insanity

Ann and James Gorman holding a photo of their teenage son John who was killed in a horrific head-on crash. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Ann and James Gorman holding a photo of their teenage son John who was killed in a horrific head-on crash. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
John Gorman

A heartbroken mother has said she cannot see any justice for her teenage son who was killed in a horrific car crash.

John Gorman (19) was driving home with his younger brother, Adam, on December 29, 2015, when their car was hit head-on by a vehicle that had crossed the road.

John died in the crash, at Ballycrystal, Co Offaly, which happened only 8km from the brothers' home in Walsh Island.

Sixteen-year-old Adam suffered serious injuries and was rushed to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

Last week, the Court of Appeal quashed a "guilty" jury verdict in relation to the case.

Expert

The driver of the oncoming car, Dariusz Alchimionek (44), had denied the manslaughter of John and assault causing harm to his brother.

In April 2017, a jury returned majority guilty verdicts on both counts, despite unanimous expert opinion that Alchimionek, of Spa Street, Portarlington, Co Laois, was legally insane.

John's parents, Ann and James, were at the Criminal Courts of Justice yesterday when Alchimionek was committed to the Central Mental Hospital.

Ann said her two other children, Joanne and Adam, had "given up on the justice system".

"We got nothing out of it," she said, adding that the family had spent three years fighting.

James said: "The accused has a right to a fair trial. He has a jury and a judge and he can appeal. John got none of that.

"You don't have a voice in the court setting, apart from the victim impact statement."

The couple became grandparents to little Kayla, who was born to Joanne last November.

"I do believe it was a gift from John to help us," said Ann.

Paying tribute to her son, she said John, who was studying computer science, won a role model of the year award in his sixth year at Colaiste Iosagain in Portarlington.

On learning that John had died, James said: "You know at that stage your whole life is changed. He had everything going for him."

There were only two years between each of the children in the family.

Asked how they were coping, Ann said: "Struggling. Every day, every hour."

James added: "You got some closure when Alchimionek was found guilty, but this has opened it all up again."

Invade

Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court previously heard how Alchimionek became convinced that Islamic State (IS) was about to invade Europe and a third world war was about to begin.

Consultant psychiatrists from the Central Mental Hospital told the court he met the criteria to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury had the option of returning a verdict of guilty, not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. After two hours and 50 minutes of deliberations, it returned majority guilty verdicts.

Alchimionek was given a nine-year prison stretch, with the final three years suspended in October 2017.

However, the Court of Appeal quashed the jury's guilty verdict last week on the grounds that it was "perverse" and against the weight of the evidence.

The three-judge Appeal Court heard yesterday from Dr Paul O'Connell, consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, who recently assessed Alchimionek.

Dr O'Connell said that in his opinion, Alchimionek warranted continued detention as an in-patient at the hospital.

On foot of the assessment, the court committed him to the Central Mental Hospital.

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