Drink-driving farmer jailed for causing death of pensioner

Dan Coakley (44) pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of pensioner David Service (80) in a collision at Carrigleigh, Co Cork in 2020
Drink-driving farmer jailed for causing death of pensioner

Olivia Kelleher

A farmer, who was more than four times over the legal limit after a night of heavy drinking when he caused the death of an 80-year-old man in a two vehicle collision, has been jailed for three years and nine months.

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

Coakley previously appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court where he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of pensioner David Service, who was a passenger in a car driven by his son Gary.

Coakley also pleaded guilty to drink-driving and knowingly or recklessly having a defective vehicle at the time of the collision.

Defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan told the court his client was “100 per cent wrong but also very remorseful”, adding Coakley was "somebody who would have an alcohol problem".

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 Carrigleigh, Inchigeelagh, at 11.30am November 8th, 2020 causing the death of David Service.

Gary Service was driving his father, who was sitting in the front passenger sear, back to Cork city from Gouganebarra when the collision occurred, with both men subsequently being taken to Cork University Hospital for treatment.

Vehicle examination

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. The garda added the accused co-operated fully with gardaí on the day of the crash.

Following the collision, both vehicles were sent for a PSV examination, resulting in Coakley also 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, a fractured pelvis, did not appear to be life-threatening and he was expected to make a full recovery. However, the 80-year-old had a number of underlying health conditions and died from his injuries 18 days later while still in hospital.

A victim impact statement was supplied to the court, which heard the Service family remain shocked by the incident which led to the death of their much-loved father and grandfather.

The court also heard Gary Service sustained injuries to his neck, back and should in the collision.

Sentencing Coakley on Friday, Judge Helen Boyle said the offence had devastating consequences for Mr Service and his family, adding she was conscious of the huge loss experienced by the family.

Judge Boyle said the main cause of the collision was the fact that Coakley was driving while drunk, causing him to crash into Mr Service’s car which had been on the correct side of the road.

The judge acknowledged a probation report noted Coakley had previously underwent treatment for alcohol misuse at Talbot Grove, Co Kerry. Although Coakley had fallen back into drinking following his treatment, the court heard he has since made an effort once again to address the issue.

“I accept that you are deeply remorseful and accept full responsibility for drink-driving, as you did on the day, leading to the death of Mr Service,” Judge Boyle said.

“The guilty plea in particular is of value because you have not only saved the State the time and expense of a trial, but you have spared the witnesses the trauma of having to give evidence in a trial, and that is to your credit,” she said.

Judge Boyle jailed Coakley for three years and nine months and disqualified him from driving for 10 years.

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