Jail for drunk driver who drove into pedestrian in Ballyfermot

by Padraig Conlon
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A drunk driver who drove into a pedestrian while trying to avoid a garda checkpoint has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Darren Kershaw (45) of Cherry Orchard Park, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing seriously harm at Landen Road, Ballyfermot on June 19, 2018.

Kershaw also pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene and to driving over the legal alcohol limit, both on the same date.

Passing sentence today, Judge Elma Sheahan said the court viewed Kershaw’s culpability as being high.

She noted that the majority of his 11 previous convictions were for minor road traffic offences.

Judge Sheahan said the mitigating factors were his plea of guilty, his full co-operation and genuine remorse, his substance addictions and his efforts to rehabilitate including abstaining from alcohol since the offence and more recently abstaining from drugs.

She sentenced Kershaw to four-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the final 12 months on strict conditions including that he remain drug and alcohol free.

At an earlier sentencing hearing, Detective Sergeant Brian Hoey told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that patrol cars began following the accused after he did a u-turn just before a Garda checkpoint on Sarsfield Road in Ballyfermot.

Dt Sgt Hoey said that the car had mounted the pavement as it attempted to turn onto Landen Road where it knocked down a set of traffic lights before striking Ranyfrancia DaSilva, a Brazilian national, who was walking home from a restaurant with her husband.

The car did not stop at the scene but was unable to drive much further because of damage to a front tyre and axle.

After he was arrested, Kershaw claimed he had had “a few cans of Heineken” as well as two pints in a pub after being out “sulky racing” and had panicked when he saw the Garda checkpoint. He called himself “an idiot” and apologised for the injury he had caused the victim.

The court heard that test results showed Kershaw had 200mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine as well as traces of cannabis and cocaine in his system.

Ms DaSilva was knocked unconscious after being struck by the vehicle, suffering multiple skull fractures and injuries to her back.

The victim continues to suffer dizziness, headaches and disturbed sleep and has been unable to work at her job with a delivery firm since the accident.

Det Sgt Hoey agreed with Pádraig Dwyer SC, defending, that the defendant had consistently expressed his remorse and accepted his responsibility for what happened his victim.

Mr Dwyer said the defendant, a father of five who works as a stage construction worker, suffers from depression and cries when he thinks of how he had dramatically changed his victim’s life.

In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court, Ranyfrancia DaSilva said she had incurred medical expenses totaling €27,000 and had to turn down a new job in IT with a salary of €40,000.

Ms DaSilva said she was now sad all the time and suffered depression and was afraid to leave her apartment. She said she no longer socialised and lived in fear that something similar could happen again.

Ms DaSilva said she had no recollection of the car crash and only remembered waking up in St James’ Hospital where she stayed for over a month.

“Every day is a struggle for me,” she said.

Although she recognised she was lucky to be alive, Ms DaSilva said she suffered constant back pain and missed being able to go to a gym with her husband.

“I’m not the same person. My personality changed that day.” said Ms DaSilva.

“I miss my old self and I don’t like to look at old photos of me,” she said.

Ms DaSilva said she experienced financial difficulties and was now reliant on her husband who had to work extra shifts to pay their rent which caused her stress and guilt.

“I struggle to come to terms with the day that destroyed my life,” she said.

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