A BUTTEVANT motorist whose dangerous driving caused serious bodily harm to a woman in a head-on collision that a judge said was like a “bomb going off” was jailed for three years and banned from driving for 10 years.
“I am very concerned about this man ever driving again given the nature of his problems… Given this man’s stability — or lack of it — I don’t think he is a candidate for the open road,” Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said.
He imposed a four-year sentence with the last year suspended in the case against Paul Coen, aged 46, of Templemany, Buttevant, Co Cork, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Detective Garda Pat Sexton of Mallow Garda Station gave evidence of the serious car crash on December 1, 2019.
The detective said it occurred a couple of miles on the Cork side of Mallow when Coen’s Ford Focus went on to its incorrect side into the path of a Toyota Corolla causing a head-on collision. The family in the Corolla were on a pre-Christmas shopping trip. The man and his daughter were injured in the Toyota. The man’s wife who was driving the car was seriously injured.
She had to be airlifted to hospital where her condition was critical. While she survived her injuries she said in her victim impact statement that there was not a day in the 17 months since the accident that she did not wake up in the morning feeling sad or in pain as a result of her injuries.
The judge noted that the victim had derived satisfaction from making a contribution to the community through her work but was now unable to continue with this work.
Det Garda Sexton said witnesses had seen the Ford Focus being driven erratically prior to the accident. One witness was concerned when she saw erratic driving and the driver pulling up outside a pub in Rathduff and going inside.
As well as pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing serious injury to the woman, Coen also pleaded guilty to a charge of refusing to give a blood sample to gardaí checking for drink-driving.
Sinead Behan, defence barrister, said there were very positive testimonials on Coen from his workplace, he was fully insured to meet the inevitable civil proceedings in the case and he wrote a letter of apology to the family in the other car.
Ms Behan said the 46-year-old had a history of major depression prior to this incident. The defendant was shaking visibly during the sentencing hearing.
The defence barrister said the accused was wracked with guilt for his actions. He is on medication including anti-depressants and his wife is very supportive of him, Ms Behan said.
Judge Ó Donnabháin described the high-speed impact as being like a bomb going off, resulting in severe personal injuries where the main injured party’s husband and daughter were left wondering if she would survive the crash.