Schoolgirl was killed as driver was ‘showing off’

A WEST Limerick man who crashed while performing handbrake turns - resulting in the death of a 15-year-old schoolgirl - was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

A WEST Limerick man who crashed while performing handbrake turns - resulting in the death of a 15-year-old schoolgirl - was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Peter Brouder, 23, of Castleview Estate, Strand, Newcastle West pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Amy St John on July 10, 2010.

The student who was from Woodfield, Newcastle West, died at the Regional Hospital two days after she was critically injured in the head-on collision which happened at Culhane’s Cross on the R522 near the village of Feoghanagh.

During a sentencing hearing, Limerick Circuit Court heard Brouder was driving a 00-registered Honda Civic which was in collision with another car - being driven by a couple in their 50s - at around 9.30pm.

Garda Joe Collins said the road was wet at the time of the crash as it had been raining earlier in the evening.

He told the court the accident happened on a straight stretch of road and when he arrived the Honda was on its roof.

He said witness said the Honda was travelling at a speed of between 60 and 70pmh and that it was zigzagging on the road.

Garda Collins said the defendant admitted he had lost control of his car as he was performing a handbrake turn to “show off”.

The court heard the Honda clipped a ditch and rolled a number of times before colliding with the oncoming Toyota Corolla.

There were three passengers in the Honda Civic and Amy, who in the back seat sustained critical injuries in the impact.

In a victim impact statement, her family said she had been full of fun and was a “beautiful kind and caring child who always had a smile on her face”.

Her father, Thomas said Amy’s brother Ronan was just eleven when his sister died and still struggles to come to terms with her death.

He said Amy has a new baby sister and some day he will have to explain to her that she once had a sister whom she’ll never know.

Thomas also recalled how his daughter’s ambition was to be a social worker when she finished school.

“One of the hardest days for our family was the day we received her Junior Certificate results what should have been a day of joy and celebration was unbearable as we realised the excellent results she received would never be of use to her,” he said.

Imposing sentence, Judge Carroll Moran said it was a particularly difficult case but he said nothing he could say would bring Amy back.

While noting that alcohol was not a factor, the judge said Brouder was driving recklessly and considerably above the speed limit, which was 80kph.

“A motor car can be a lethal weapon if not managed properly and can cause catastrophic damage like a gun can,” he said as he imposed a three year prison sentence.

Brouder was also disqualified from driving for 20 years.