Limerick man jailed over death of couple

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

A COUNTY Limerick man has been sentenced to five years imprisonment after he was found guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a married couple almost four years ago.

A COUNTY Limerick man has been sentenced to five years imprisonment after he was found guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a married couple almost four years ago.

Michael Harty, aged 30, of St Mary’s Terrace, Askeaton was convicted last month following an eight-day trial at Limerick Circuit Court.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge, which related to a collision at Ardtomin, Askeaton at around on July 29, 2009.

Maurice Hartnett, 61, and his wife Margaret, 59, who were from Ballingarry died after the Volkswagen Caddy van they were travelling in was in collision with Harty’s Toyota RAV4 on the R518 between Rathkeale and Askeaton.

During the trial, the jury was told that Harty had been drinking in the hours before the collision and it was the prosecution case that he had been driving on the wrong side of the road when the impact occurred.

In a victim impact statement, the family of Mr and Mrs Hartnett said they have been left “completely devastated and heartbroken” as a result of what happened.

“We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Mam and Dad and they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to us and this will haunt us until the day we die,” read the statement.

This afternoon, Judge Carroll Moran said the accident should never have happened and he described the deaths of Mr and Mrs Hartnett as “needless and unnecessary”.

However, the judge said nothing he could say or do would bring them back to life.

Noting that Harty has a number of previous convictions for road traffic offences and that alcohol was a factor in the offence, he said he was obliged to impose a prison sentence.

He sentenced the married father-of-three to five years imprisonment and he disqualified him from driving for 30 years.

Laywers representing Harty have indicated that an appeal is likely in the case.