Man (29) jailed for dangerous driving on N7 causing death and serious injury

Thomas Doran (29) drove 700 metres down the N7 in the wrong direction before colliding head on with another car
Man (29) jailed for dangerous driving on N7 causing death and serious injury

Fiona Ferguson and Sonya McLean

A man who drove the wrong way down the N7 dual carriageway and caused a crash which killed one man and seriously injured two others has been jailed for six years.

Thomas Doran (29) had been spotted driving dangerously by gardaí in Tallaght, Dublin, before the collision, but they stopped the pursuit as it was too unsafe to continue.

Doran drove 700 metres down the N7 in the wrong direction before colliding head on with another car, killing the driver, Anatolie Butucel, and seriously injuring the passenger, Serghei Grigoras. Doran’s uncle, Patrick Connors, who was in the car with him, was also seriously injured.

Doran was uncooperative at the scene and refused to give his details.

Gardaí were unable to obtain a specimen for testing from Doran, who was also seriously injured in the crash, as doctors at the hospital said life preserving treatment was more important at that time.

Mr Butucel and Mr Grigoras were work colleagues who were travelling home that night. Mr Butucel died at the scene from multiple traumatic injuries. Mr Grigoras, a passenger in his car, spent seven months in hospital and continues to rehabilitate from his life changing injuries.

Mr Connors, who was getting a lift home with his nephew, could not remember the crash.

Father's death

The court heard Doran was “self-medicating” on a “cocktail” of substances after his father’s death earlier that year to such an extent he was unsure how his uncle had come to be in the car.

Doran of Clonskeagh Road, Ranelagh, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Butucel and causing serious bodily harm to Mr Grigoras and Mr Connors at N7 Naas dual carriageway on September 21st, 2020.

Doran, who has 64 previous convictions including priors for dangerous and drunk driving, was on bail and disqualified from driving for ten years at the time of the crash.

Judge Melanie Greally said that nature of Doran’s driving that night was “so extreme that death or serious injury was an inevitability”.

She said Mr Butucel is survived by his ex-wife and two daughters. She said it was clear from their victim impact statement that he was a devoted father, both financially and emotionally.

“His daughter laments for the time she did not get to spend with him and the times she has been denied in her future with her father,” Judge Greally said.

She noted from Mr Grigoras victim impact statement the “enormous extent to which his life had been impacted” by his injuries.

“He had great hopes and plans for his future, particularly his future in Ireland,” Judge Greally said before adding that Mr Grigoras’s future opportunities have been considerably reduced now.

Difficult childhood

The judge accepted that Doran had a difficult childhood in which both alcohol and domestic abuse featured.

She said the death of his father in June 2020 “led to emotional turmoil for him due to conflicting emotions” and he binged on both alcohol and drugs in an attempt to overcome this.

She further accepted that a cognitive function assessment placed him in the extremely low range, his education was curtailed, and he has no history of employment.

She set a headline sentence of eight years but took into account Doran’s guilty plea, expression of remorse, including the fact that he brought €1,500 in court for Mr Grigoras, his adverse life experiences, poor mental health and addictions.

Judge Greally sentenced Doran to six and half years in prison with the final six months suspended on strict conditions including that he engage with the Probation Service for 12 months upon his ultimate release from prison. She also disqualified him from driving for 20 years.

Doran asked to speak at the end of the hearing and said: “I just want to say I am very, very sorry, deeply sorry.”

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