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Sunday 23 September 2018

Trucker who killed new mum after 'nodding off at wheel' is spared jail

Lily Rose with grandad Paddy. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Lily Rose with grandad Paddy. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

The mother of a young woman who was killed while travelling to visit her sick baby in a Dublin hospital has said the suspended sentence handed down to the truck driver responsible will never bring her back.

Ciaran McBride (33) pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death between Junctions 10 and 9 of the M8 on September 5, 2016, after he veered off the motorway and struck a car stopped on the hard shoulder.

Tipperary Circuit Criminal Court heard that back-seat passenger Nicola Kenny (26) died instantly from multiple injuries, only seconds after she heard from Temple Street Children's Hospital that her day-old baby, Lily Rose, was fine and she did not need to make the trip.

Judge Tom Teehan, in imposing a suspended 18-month prison sentence, said the evidence indicated it was most likely that McBride momentarily fell asleep at the wheel rather than being distracted by a fit of sneezing as he had claimed.

Satisfied

Speaking to the Herald last night, and asked if she was satisfied with the sentence imposed, Nicola's mother, Ann, said it did not change anything.

"I'm just happy that the truth came out. That's all I ever wanted, but at the end of the day it doesn't change anything. Nicola isn't here any more," she said.

She added that Lily Rose was well looked after. "She's flying through the place. She's doing great," she added.

The 2001 Volvo truck driven by McBride, of Carna, Keady, Co Armagh, ploughed into the back of the Ford Focus, which contained Ms Kenny in the back; her mother in the front passenger seat; and her aunt, Irene Whelan Slattery, driving.

Ms Kenny had given birth to Lily Rose in Clonmel Hospital on September 4. However, the infant became ill and had to be rushed to Temple Street.

Ms Kenny had just been collected by her Thurles-based mother and aunt and was on her way to see Lily Rose in Dublin.

The Ford Focus had pulled on to the hard shoulder to allow Ms Kenny to take an urgent phone call from Temple Street to tell her Lily Rose was fine.

Devastating

Ms Whelan Slattery suffered a traumatic brain injury in the collision and had to be airlifted to University Hospital Limerick.

In victim statements, Nicola's parents, Ann and Paddy, said they had been left devastated by the tragedy.

"The death of Nicola as a young mother was devastating, both for myself and my entire family," her mother said."

Nicola's dad said they were now raising Lily Rose.

"It has left a huge hole in our lives," he added.

Judge Teehan was told that McBride indicated to gardai he would plead at a very early stage and had co-operated fully.

He had contacted the Kenny family, through a priest, and offered to attend Nicola's funeral. However, he agreed not to do so when he learned of the family's wishes.

Defence counsel Philip Sheahan said his client was deeply remorseful and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Judge Teehan disqualified McBride from driving for five years. He also imposed a compensation order, in favour of Paddy and Ann Kenny, whereby McBride must pay them €2,000 a year for five years.

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