Sentence of Limerick girl’s Italian killer reduced

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

THE ITALIAN man convicted of killing a Castleconnell woman and her friend in a drunken hit-and-run in Rome has had his seven year sentence reduced to five.

THE ITALIAN man convicted of killing a Castleconnell woman and her friend in a drunken hit-and-run in Rome has had his seven year sentence reduced to five.

Elizabeth Gubbins, 27, Castleconnell and Mary Clare Collins, 28, Athy travelled to Rome for a holiday in March 2008.

The friends died instantly when they were struck by Friedrich Vernarelli’s car on the night of St Patrick’s Day.

They were returning to their accommodation at about 3am and walking on a pedestrian crossing when they were killed.

Witnesses said that the Italian man briefly stopped but then drove off at speed and was found later to be four and half times above the Italian legal limit.

He was convicted of manslaughter, driving while drunk and leaving the scene of the crash.

In 2010, public prosecutor Andrea Mosca had called for a nine-year sentence for Vernarelli - the son of a former mayor and police chief.

The judge knocked two years off after hearing that he had no previous convictions.

The seven year sentence has now been reduced to five.

Throughout the lengthy trial, which opened in September 2008, Vernarelli had claimed that he was not at the wheel of the Mercedes car that had hit the two Irish women.

He said the car was driven by two Hungarian friends he had met earlier. Neither of the two Hungarians could be found for the trial.

Elizabeth is sadly missed by her father Tom, sisters Ita, Lucy, Marie and Helen and brother David, extended family and many friends.

Following the trial in 2010 the Gubbins family said: “We are devastated at the loss of Elizabeth, such a bright, vital part of our family life. We miss her every day, and regret that we were not with her in her hour of need.”