A teenage boy who caused the death of a 16-year-old girl and permanent injury to a 17-year-old male in crash while driving at 119 kmh in a 50 kmh zone has had his sentence reduced on appeal.
Daniel Wyse (18) of Killiney Heights, Knocknaheeny, Cork city, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of his passenger Kimberly O’Connor and causing serious bodily harm to another male passenger at a hearing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last March.
Wyse, who was 16 at the time of the crash, also pleaded guilty to failing to stop, driving without a licence and insurance and failing to give gardaí appropriate information on Harbour View Road in Knocknaheeny in February 2020.
Sentencing Wyse to four years’ detention followed by four years supervision, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin also imposed a 15-year driving ban.
The judge also lifted restrictions on naming the defendant, which would have been in place because he was a juvenile, saying it would be in the public interest his name was known given the length of the driving ban.
Wyse later appealed the severity of the sentence.
At the Court of Appeal today (FRIDAY), Ray Boland SC, for the appellant, said it had been “a very difficult case”.
The trial judge, Mr Boland said, had approached sentencing as if his client was an adult, and he only revised his sentencing after being advised he could not do so.
Counsel added that insufficient weight had been placed on the fact that his client had no previous convictions and had completed his Leaving Cert when he first appeared in court.
Mr Boland also disputed the trial judge’s assessment that, by feeling the scene, his client had displayed a lack remorse for his actions.
“He was a child,” counsel said.
Referring to the driving ban, Mr Boland said it represented an unfair impediment which was being placed on his client as an adult for an offence he had committed as a child.
Jane Hyland BL, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that although the sentence imposed could be considered as “severe” it was still within the discretion of the judge.
Moments before the fatal crash Wyse had been involved in a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre and had been driving at twice the speed limit, she added.
“These were prime aggravating factors for the judge,” Ms Hyland said.
Quashing the sentence, Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, said: “This was very serious offending and the sentencing judge was quite correct when he described the driving as reckless.” However, Mr Justice Birmingham also noted that Judge Ó Donnabháin “may have not had sufficient regard to the fact that he [Wyse] was a juvenile”.
The Court of Appeal, the judge added, regarded a six-year term as the appropriate starting point for sentencing.
Mr Justice Birmingham then discounted the sentence by two years before suspending the final 18 months of the remaining four years for 18 months.
Wyse’s driving ban was also reduced by five years.
“The appellant may depend on the ability to drive to secure employment, an in these circumstances a ban of 10 years would be appropriate,” the judge said.