Man jailed for Edgeworthstown hit and run

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Man jailed for Edgeworthstown hit and run

A man charged with a dangerous driving incident in Edgeworthstown on September 10, 2017, and failing to report the occurrence of an accident to Gardaí, has been sentenced to six years in prison with the final year suspended for a period of ten years.

Aaron Cassidy appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson at Longford Circuit Court for sentencing, following a lengthy hearing on an earlier date.

On the date in question, the accused had driven to Edgeworthstown in an intoxicated state, where he was to collect his brother and his brother's friend from a party in a local pub.

On arriving in Edgeworthstown, the accused spotted the injured party, Stephen Roche, standing on the road outside the pub, talking to a colleague.

The accused drove his Ford Transit van in a circle around the injured party and his colleague twice and, on the second circle, he collided with Mr Roche and knocked him over.

Mr Roche received significant injuries, including a brain injury, from which he is still recovering.

"Deterrence has to be a significant consideration in any case like this, where an intoxicated driver causes such devastation," said Judge Johnson.

"Intoxicated driving is no longer morally, legally or socially acceptable. Regrettably, it is still a source of amazement and concern to me that cases of this nature still regularly come before the courts.

"One would have thought that, given the changing cultural attitudes towards drinking and driving, offences of this nature would become a rarity. Unfortunately, that is not the reality and innocent people like Mr Roche continue to be victims of drunken drivers like the accused, who have to bear a high degree of culpability for their actions."

Turning to sentencing, Judge Johnson listed the accused's intoxication, his reckless driving around the victim, the fact that he fled the scene, hid his van in the bog and went to the UK to avoid gardaí among the long list of aggravating factors.

"In an interview with Gardaí, the fact that the accused alleged that the victim had jumped at his van, which was patently untrue, is a further aggravating factor in that, not alone did it hinder the Garda investigation, but also cast aspersions on the victim that thereby compounded negative effects of the offence on him," said Judge Johnson.

"Allied to this, the accused in interviews with Gardaí, failed to be truthful in relation to his excessive consumption of alcohol in the hours preceding the offence. This lack of candour is a further aggravating factor from a sentencing perspective."

The effect of the offence on the victim and his family, and the fact that Mr Cassidy drove without insurance were also listed as aggravating factors.

Mitigating factors included the accused's guilty plea, his cooperation when he was ultimately interviewed by Gardaí, his good work record and a number of testimonials to his character, among others.

"The expressions of remorse for his offending from the accused appeared initially to be genuine and, as such, were worthy of mitigation," said Judge Johnson.

"However, the court was very concerned to learn from the probation report that the accused accepts no responsibility in terms of him purposefully driving into the victim on the night in question and his reiteration that it was an accident and that he would not be capable of doing such a deed.

"Simultaneously, he admitted that he had no actual recollection of his involvement in the commission of the offences, such was his level of intoxication."

Taking all factors into account, Judge Johnson imposed a sentence of six years imprisonment but, in order to foster and encourage the continued rehabilitation of the accused, he suspended the final year for a period of 10 years. 

For failing to report the accident to Gardaí, Mr Cassidy was given a three year sentence, concurrent with the sentence already imposed. Judge Johnson also disqualified him from driving for a period of 10 years.