The partner of a motorcyclist whose death was caused by the dangerous driving of a van driver at a junction near Rathcormac, Co Cork, described it yesterday as “a stupid waste of a young man’s life”.
Daniel Kelly, aged 54, of 3 Hillside, Rostellan, Midleton, Co Cork, was found guilty by a jury of dangerous driving on July 28, 2017, at Bridgelands East, Rathcormac, causing the death of Patrick O’Keefe. He had already admitted the lesser charge of careless driving causing death.
He wrote a letter of apology to the family of the deceased who agreed to meet with him privately after the sentencing hearing.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a six-month suspended sentence on the defendant and disqualified him from driving for four years.
The late Mr O’Keefe’s partner, Tina Carey, said in her victim impact statement: “He has been cheated from the life he had built, the family he loved, and all because someone couldn’t concentrate while behind the wheel of a vehicle.
“A huge hole has been left behind for many to deal with. We are broken, devastated, and still bewildered at what has happened. Bottom line is Pa is gone, he can’t come back.
“Patrick was a man of 35 the day he was killed. He was my partner and we had been together for 16-and-a-half years. He was a dad, a son, a brother, and a friend to many.
“Patrick was a hardworking man who loved the craic. He was always there to lend a helping hand to whoever needed it and is a big loss to his family and community where he did a lot of fund-raising for people. He loved his job as an electrician and loved a challenge and in the last few years he was the main drive behind the Hillbilly Mud Run in Mitchelstown.
“Pa loved his family. He loved life and lived everyday to the full. He never stopped and he had the heartiest laugh. Sometimes I still think I can hear him laughing.
“I am gone from planning our future to being a lone parent of three boys.
“I know life goes on, as so many people keep telling me but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. We have lost our future together, growing old together, doing our travelling and enjoying our kids together. We have been robbed.”
Judge Ó Donnabháin said the defendant emerged from a byroad on to the old Dublin-Cork road at Barry’s Bridge outside Rathcormac. The judge described it as a difficult junction and all the more so on this occasion as the defendant was turning right on to it.
The defendant was faced with an oncoming van turning into the byroad as he was driving on to the main road. “That caused Mr Kelly to think his path of travel was free. But there was — outside the turning vehicle — a motorcycle on which the unfortunate deceased was riding. It had fatal consequences.
“The act of emerging when he could not have known his way was clear was dangerous.”
The judge said that while the defendant pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving, he always admitted careless driving causing death, thereby admitting his wrongdoing.
The judge added that there were absolutely no aggravating factors such as speed or alcohol.
The judge said the late Mr O’Keefe did everything correctly, being on his correct side and not speeding and yet he was killed.
“It is a salutary lesson to everyone who sits behind the wheel — we are all casual and neglectful in our driving on occasions,” the judge said.
Seamus Roche, defending, said the accused had no previous convictions, worked hard, and was of good standing in the community.