A MAN who left a young woman “for dead” after a hit and run incident on the city’s man thoroughfare has been jailed for three years.
Thomas Kiely, 20, with an address at Barynakyle, Patrickswell, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm and to making a false statement to gardai on May 18, 2012.
Kiely, who has 63 previous convictions – including six for dangerous driving – has also been banned from driving for 16 years.
The court heard that he “panicked” after the incident, left the scene and made a false report to the gardai the next day, claiming that his vehicle was stolen from outside his house after he left the keys inside.
The victim Helena Wren, 28, from Tarbert, county Kerry, was left in a wheelchair for six weeks after the crash and suffered multiple serious injuries including fractures to her pelvis, clavicle, wrist and ankle.
She has also been left with one leg shorter than the other, and pieces of glass are still embedded in her left palm, which haven’t been able to be removed by medical professionals to date.
In her victim impact statement, read out on her behalf by the prosecution at Limerick Circuit Court, she said he “left her for dead on the road”, before a taxi driver came to her aid.
Ms Wren, who was present in court with her mother for the hearing, was crossing the road at 2.45am when she was hit by Kiely’s modified Nissan Almera at the junction with Bedford Row. “I don’t call it an accident because in an accident someone would have said they were sorry,” she wrote. She said Kiely had shown no remorse for the pain or suffering he caused.
Ms Wren, who has to wear a raised left shoe, suffers from anxiety and nightmares and flashbacks about the incident, and is attending a counsellor to deal with these issues. She avoids Limerick city centre since and doesn’t like to talk to people about what happened.
Kiely told gardaí the morning after the hit and run that his car had been stolen, however Garda Sean O’Hagan agreed with the defence that the story was “unbelievable” and “an absolute fairytale”.
Kiely had been stopped twice by gardaí driving in Limerick before the collision, and CCTV footage showed him in the Denmark Street area at around 2.20am before the incident.
In his final interview with gardai he admitted he was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident and said he “panicked”. Garda O’Hagan said the vehicle was found abandoned at a cemetery in Ballybrown, and had full frontal damage, consistent with it being involved in a collision. Kiely was insured at the time, had a licence and entered an early plea of guilty.
Before imposing sentence Judge Carroll Moran said there was no justification for the speed Kiely was driving at on a busy road when people were leaving pubs and nightclubs.
Defence counsel Brian McInerney said his client has psychological problems and these contributed to his actions on the night. Judge Moran sentenced Kiely to three years in prison recommending he get treatment for psychological problems while in prison.
Kiely has six previous convictions for dangerous driving, as well as a conviction for careless driving, and a hit and run.
Of his 63 previous convictions, 53 are related to road traffic matters. The charge of making a false report to gardai was taken into consideration.