Suspended sentence for Cavan driver whose car struck and killed motorcyclist
A driver whose car struck and killed a motorcyclist when he 'suddenly' moved his car into the bus lane has received a fully suspended sentence.
Stephen Fee (53) was knocked from his motorcycle when John Tierney (53) suddenly pulled his car into the bus lane in which Mr Fee had been driving.
Mr Tierney of Rockhouse, Gowna, Co Cavan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing death at junction 3 of the N4 motorway, Lucan, Co Dublin, on December 10, 2018. He has no previous convictions.
Passing sentencing today (Wednesday, October 14), Judge Martin Nolan said Mr Fee's death was particularly tragic taking into account the death of his brother at a younger age. He said it seemed that “tragedy has certainly visited the Fee family”.
Judge Nolan said that in his view the driving in relation to the incident was of a “misjudgement level” with little or no aggravating factors. He said that taken with the “excellent mitigation”, Mr Tierney does not deserve a custodial sentence.
He sentenced Mr Tierney to one years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in full on strict conditions. He also suspended him from driving for eight years.
Judge Nolan said the dangerous driving in the case was that Tierney should have looked to make sure nothing was driving in the lane before he changed his lane. He said it seemed Tierney had taken a decision to change lanes and did so in a “sudden” way.
He said that in this case Tierney “committed a misjudgement” and unfortunately for everyone in the court, Mr Fee died.
Sergeant Paul Moran told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that Mr Fee was travelling inbound towards Dublin in an outer bus lane of the N4 motorway near a junction in Lucan just before the collision. Mr Fee was wearing hi-vis trousers and a hi-vis jacket while driving his motorcycle.
Sgt Moran said the weather was relatively dry and calm, although the road was somewhat damp prior to the accident.
Following the collision, Mr Fee was brought to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
A doctor concluded that his death was caused by “massive inner cranial injuries secondary to skull fracture” as a result of a motor vehicle incident.
In interview with gardaí, Tierney said his car began to lose power after a light came on for the “diesel particle filter” and as a result he dropped down into second gear trying to clear the problem with the car. He said he then pulled into the bus lane.
Tierney accepted it was fair to say he pulled right into the path of the motorcycle and that he had not seen Mr Fee prior to the collision. He accepted the manoeuvre he made was dangerous and said it was “a bad judgement call”.
The court heard that there was no suggestion that Tierney was driving at excess speed or that he was in any way intoxicated.
In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court on her behalf, the victim's sister Anne Connolly said her brother was quite shy as a person but witty when you go to know him.
Ms Connolly said that he is “dearly missed” by his friends and family and how it has impacted on them “is impossible to display in words”.
She said that without Stephen she has lost a part of herself. She said there is “a sense of loss that never leaves my mind”.
“My brother's life was not over and he had not finished living,” she told the court.
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