Drink-driving farmer pleads guilty to dangerous driving causing death of pensioner

Dan Coakley pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, drink-driving, and having a defective vehicle
Drink-driving farmer pleads guilty to dangerous driving causing death of pensioner

Olivia Kelleher

A farmer who was over the limit after a night of heavy drinking caused the death of an 80-year-old man in a two-vehicle collision, Cork Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

Dan Coakley of Derryleigh, Inchigeelagh, Co Cork had a reading of 99 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath when the crash occurred. The legal limit is 22 microgrammes per 100 millilitres.

Coakley previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of pensioner, David Service, who was a passenger in a car driven by his son Gary.

He also pleaded guilty to drink-driving and knowingly or recklessly having a defective vehicle at the time of the collision, which occurred at Carrigleigh in Inchigeelagh at 11.30am on November 8th, 2020.

Defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan said his client was “100 per cent wrong but also very remorseful”.

“He was completely wrong. He should feel bad. He does feel bad. He remained at the scene. There was no attempt by him to escape the scene.

"He is somebody who would have an alcohol problem. There were defects in the vehicle which were viewed as dangerous defects, but the reality of this is my client was very drunk and driving a car. There is no getting around that."

Head-on collision

Garda Daragh Moore told Judge Helen Boyle that Coakley (44) was the driver of a black Audi car which crossed over the centre white line at 11.30am on the morning in question, causing the death of David Service.

Gary Service and his father were returning to Cork city from Gouganebarra, with Gary driving and his father in the front seat passenger.

While driving through the village of Inchigeelagh in a Ford Connect, the pair were involved in a collision with the vehicle of Coakley, who was driving in the opposite direction but had crossed the centre white line resulting in a head-on collision.

Both Gary and David Service were taken to Cork University Hospital for treatment following the collision.

Garda Moore said gardaí detected a smell of alcohol from Coakley at the scene and a breath sample was taken. Coakley was subsequently arrested and taken to Macroom Garda station where he underwent an evidenzer test.

Both vehicles were sent for examination, leading to Coakley being charged with driving a defective vehicle. Examiners found the Black Audi had an excessively worn nearside front track rod end and an excessively worn nearside front suspension upper ball joint.

Garda Moore said the injuries sustained by David Service did not appear to be life-threatening when he was first taken to hospital, where he was found to have had a fractured pelvis, and he was expected to make a full recovery.

However, Mr Service had a number of underlying health conditions and died from his injuries 18 days after the incident. Gary Service also received injuries to his neck, back and shoulder in the collision.

Garda Moore said Coakley co-operated fully with gardaí on the day of the crash.

A victim impact statement was handed in to Judge Boyle for her consideration and a probation report was also submitted.

Judge Boyle adjourned sentencing in the case until May 13th and Coakley was remanded in custody until his next court appearance.

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