“A terribly unfortunate combination of circumstances” saw a woman who had profound deafness being killed when a reversing truck travelling at little more than a walking pace knocked her down.
The 49-year-old motorist who admitted dangerous driving causing death was banned from driving for six years and given an 18-month suspended prison term at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Finola O’Farrell (nee Murphy), sister of the deceased Maeve Murphy, 56, gave a victim impact statement on behalf of the family in which she said: “Maeve was the youngest in our family and as she never married and had children of her own, she was central to all our lives. She loved her life and nothing was more important to her than her family, friends and colleagues and everyone adored her.
“She left work that day full of life, to walk the same way she always did, up town and then on perhaps to the gym and home, not knowing what lay ahead of her. The manner in which she died has been of considerable heartache to everyone. She was still so young and (had) so much of her life ahead of her.
“Maeve’s life has been taken from her so swiftly and she will miss out on everything, watching her nieces and nephews grow, and us as a family never having the opportunity to tell her how much we love her and how we miss her every day,” Ms O’Farrell said in her victim impact statement on behalf of the family.
Fortune Chigumira of An Caireal, Carrigtwohill, County Cork, admitted that on February 10 2020 at Smith Street, Cork, he drove dangerously, thereby causing the death of Maeve Murphy. He pleaded guilty to that offence.
Garda Richard O’Sullivan said Mr Chigumira was driving the Renault rigid truck that Monday afternoon and was about to make deliveries on Oliver Plunkett Street and decided to reverse the vehicle down Smith Street from South Mall.
“It was his first day on the job in that courier firm. He was making the last deliveries of that day. He was on South Mall. He reversed on to Smith Street. He was reversing the wrong way down a one-way street at 7.48 kilometres per hour. He reversed rather than driving down thinking this would be less intimidating to other road users. He travelled 77 metres the wrong way down a one-way street.
“The injured party who was 56 was deaf since birth and was walking on the street. She was on her phone. She left the footpath and continued walking towards the pedestrian area. She was 20 seconds on the road and Mr Chigumira reversed over Ms Murphy and she received multiple injuries and died a short time later in hospital,” Garda O’Sullivan said.
Donal O’Sullivan, prosecution barrister, suggested, “It was a terribly unfortunate combination of circumstances – he reversed down the street and Ms Murphy was profoundly deaf.”
Garda O’Sullivan agreed with that description of what occurred. The guard added that the speed of truck was only just above walking pace.
Emmet Boyle, defence barrister, said the Zimbabwean national who has been living in Ireland for 20 years where he is married with three children has always worked with driving or mechanics. He was very remorseful and cooperative.
Mr Boyle said of the accused, “He did not abrogate responsibility. This had devastating effects on himself and most importantly on the family of the injured party.”
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin accepted the defendant was a hardworking man and was traumatised by what occurred.
“But going down the wrong way down a side street, the level of recklessness, the level of danger was significant. He was well below the standard of what would be expected of a competent driver carrying out this work,” he said.
The judge also said the loss of Ms Murphy to her family was incalculable.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said a prison sentence would not be appropriate but that to mark the seriousness of it he would impose an 18-month term which was suspended. He was disqualified from driving for six years from June 30.