THERE were angry scenes at Limerick Courthouse after a suspended sentence was imposed in the case of a driver who struck and killed a pedestrian.
Michael Butler, 32, of Elton Court, Meelick had pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of Michael McNamara at Kileely Road, Thomondgate on July 23, 2017.
Imposing sentence, Judge Tom O’Donnell such cases are “extremely difficult” and that nothing he could do or say would change or alter what happened or bring Mr McNamara back.
Previously, the court was told the 40-year-old of Monabraher Road, Ballynanty, died at UHL from injuries he sustained in he collision.
Mr Butler, who was over the legal alcohol limit and who was not insured, was driving to get pizza and fuel when he struck Mr McNamara who was crossing the road having visited his brother earlier in the night.
“He had attained the centre of the road when he was struck by the front left passenger side of the (Mr Butler’s) BMW,” said John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting.
A report from forensic collision investigator Mike Reddy found that Mr Butler was driving at between 71.7kms and 85.9kms and there was a “sudden swerve to the right immediately before impact”.
Garda Brian Carroll said Mr Butler made admissions at the scene and that following his arrest he gave a specimen which showed a concentration of 61mgs of alcohol per 100ml of breath – almost seven times the legal limit as he did not have a driving licence.
In a victim impact statement, Mr McNamara’s family said they have been living an “absolute nightmare” since and they stressed the impact drink driving can have.
“We are all heartbroken. Michael was in the prime of his life. We miss him dearly every day and will for the rest of our lives. We hope justice is done,” they said.
Pat Barriscale BL, defending, expressed his client’s “deepest and humblest apologies” and he urged the court to note that he had remained at the scene on the night and had fully cooperated with the garda investigation.
Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell said it was important to note the charge before the court was one of careless driving causing death and not a more serious charge.
He said Mr Butler, a qualified aircraft mechanic, had been reckless but he noted he has no previous convictions and had cooperated fully with gardai.
He said his consumption of alcohol and the fact that he did not have insurance or a driving licence were aggravating factors.
However, he said his good character and the testimonials submitted to the court on his behalf were also relevant.
He imposed an 18 month prison sentence, which was suspended in full.
Mr Butler was also disqualified from driving for six years.