A JUDGE has praised the Christian attitude of the family of an elderly patient who was killed while crossing the road outside the Mid Western Regional Hospital more than two years ago.
Michael Doran (69) from Templemore, County Tipperary was returning to the hospital on St Stephen’s Day 2011, after having an ice cream at a local fast food outlet when he was knocked down.
A jury at Limerick Circuit Court was told the father of 13, who was suffering from a chest infection, was wearing his pyjamas and was using a wheelchair as a walking aid as he was crossing St Nessan’s Road in Dooradoyle.
Following a three day trial, William McDermott, aged 72, of Embury Close, Adare was convicted of careless driving causing the death of Mr Doran on December 26th 2011.
The pensioner who was driving a red Nissan Micra car on the outbound lane was acquitted of the more serious charge of dangerous driving causing death by the jury after less than two hours of deliberations.
The prosecution case was that Mr McDermott should have seen Mr Doran crossing the road and evidence was heard that another pedestrian had tried to alert him to the potential danger moments before the impact.
Evidence was heard that Mr McDermott was not crossing the road at an official pedestrian crossing and that he was walking in a diagonal line when he was hit.
Garda Grainne Harte said the defendant was fully insured and that his car was in a good condition prior to the accident.
Forensic Collision Investigator, Garda James O’Brien, told the jury the road where the accident happened was a “smooth level road” with no potholes or undulations.
In his charge to the jury, Judge Carroll Moran commented that the usual aggravating factors such as speed and alcohol were absent in the case.
Speaking after the verdict, Carol O’Brien, one of Mr Doran’s children said the family who have lost two sisters and a brother since their father’s death, bore no ill will towards Mr McDermott.
“That man went through as much as we went through. It was a sad time of the year for it to happen. We are grieving but at the end of the day he is an old man like my father was an old man. We didn’t come here for him to go to jail we came here for peace of mind which we got today,” she said.
Mr Doran’s youngest daughter, Sabrina Byrne, criticised the attitude of the HSE
“Our big issue is that our father was allowed to leave a hospital in a wheelchair and with a walking stick in the condition he was in. But the HSE says it has no case to answer that it’s a hospital and not a prison. He was free to come and go as he pleased.”
During a sentencing hearing this Wednesday, Judge Carroll Moran said Mr Doran had needlessly lost his life but that there was nothing he could do to “turn back the clock”.
After being informed that the family of Mr Doran agreed with the jury’s verdict and that they did not wish to see the defendant sent to prison, Judge Moran commended them for their charity and Christian attitude.
“One is reassured and one’s faith in humanity is restored,” he said adding that their attitude was “exceptional”.
The judge said while the views of Mr Doran’s family were relevant, he added that “it cannot be ignored that somebody lost their life”.
Mark Nicholas BL, said his client, who has no previous convictions had cooperated with investigating gardai and had apologised to members of Mr Doran’s family.
He said Mr McDermott would have to live with the consequences of what happened for the rest of his life and that “he is in a terrible place”.
Imposing sentence, Judge Moran said he would not impose a custodial sentence given all of the circumstances of the case and he said he would not impose a fine as that would be putting a value on Mr Doran’s life.
The judge disqualified the defendant from driving for four years and commented that given his age that was “a harsh enough penalty”.
There were emotional scenes in the courtroom after the sentence was handed down as members of Mr Doran’s family cried and embraced Mr McDermott.