A 49-year-old delivery driver has received an 18-month suspended sentence and a six-year driving ban after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of a woman who was killed when he reversed his lorry the wrong way down a one way street in Cork last year.
Fortune Chigumira was making his last delivery of the day when tragedy struck on February 10th, 2020 at Smith Street in Cork city centre.
Maeve Murphy (51) from Cathedral Road in Cork city had just stepped off a footpath when she was hit by the Renault rigid truck which Fortune Chigumira was driving. Ms Murphy, who was deaf, didn’t have the advantage of being able to hear the truck reversing behind her.
Mr Chigumira of An Caireal, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court having pleaded guilty to a charge that on February 10th, 2020, at Smith Street, Cork, he drove dangerously, thereby causing the death of Maeve Murphy.
Detective Garda Richard O’Sullivan told the court that Mr Chigumira was doing deliveries at 3.40pm on the date of the offence. He was reversing up Smith Street towards Oliver Plunkett Street at a speed less than eight kilometres an hour — a distance of 77 meters when the accident happened.
Ms Murphy was walking towards Oliver Plunkett Street when she left the footpath and was struck by the truck being driven by Mr Chigumira. The accident, which lasted seconds, was caught on CCTV.
Ms Murphy passed away shortly after she was taken to Cork University Hospital.
Garda O’Sullivan said “It was an unfortunate set of circumstances”. Mr Chigumura rang for an ambulance and remained with Ms Murphy until she was taken to hospital.
Victim impact statement
In a victim impact statement Ms Murphy’s sister Finola O’Farrell said that “Maeve was the central figure who joined all our family together. She was the youngest, and she never married and had children of her own.
“She loved her life and nothing was more important to her than her family, friends and colleagues and everyone adored her. The way she touched so many was a comfort to all of us at her removal and funeral with crowds queueing to pay her respect.
“Her death was an incredible shock to everyone and has had a devastating impact on our wider family.
“She left work that day full of life, to walk the same way she always did up town and then perhaps to the gym and home not knowing what lay ahead of her. The manner on which she died has been of considerable heartache to everyone.”
The passing of Ms Murphy caused much sadness as she was known in the city centre as a popular and friendly figure who worked in the Mall newsagents. She was an active member of the Cork Deaf Club.
Defence barrister Emmet Boyle said that his client, who is from Zimbabwe, was deeply remorseful for his actions. He said Mr Chigumira had resided in Ireland for two decades and was a hard worker who had never been before the courts.
He added that neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the accident and that the driver had fully cooperated with gardai.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin described Chigumira’s driving on the day as “reckless and dangerous”. He sentenced him to 18 months in prison which he suspended fully. He noted the impact of the passing of Ms Murphy on her family and the remorse felt by the driver.
He also disqualified the courier from driving for six years which he said for someone engaged in driving as an occupation would be a considerable penalty.