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26 Jan 2022

Woman who struck young mother and child in Longford collision is cleared of careless driving but convicted of no insurance

Longford Courthouse.

A woman has been convicted for no insurance following a lengthy hearing at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court.

A woman has been convicted for no insurance following a lengthy hearing at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court.

Maggie Giemza, of 36 The Morrings, Athlone, Co Westmeath, appeared before Judge Bernadette Owens who heard evidence of an alleged careless driving incident during which a young mother and her child were struck by a car driven by Ms Giemza.

The accused was also charged with having no insurance on January 17, 2018, in the village of Legan where the same incident occurred.

Injured party, Denise McGonagle, told the court last week that she had gone to the shop in Legan and, on parking up opposite the store, she took her two children out of the car and went to cross the road.

“I looked up and down. I didn’t see anything coming and I thought it was safe to go,” said Ms McGonagle.

“I saw a light out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t slowing down. I pushed my eldest and said ‘go, go, go’. I remember just waking up with people around me.”

The court heard that the incident occurred at 5.45pm in dark and rainy conditions.

“Waking up initially, I felt pain in my left hand and my head,” said Ms McGonagle.

“When I woke up, I didn’t know what happened to the boys. My two-year-old had gotten up and ran into the shop and my four-year-old was across the way and crying.”

Two ambulances came and Ms McGonagle and her son were taken to Mullingar Hospital where the court heard the child was treated for minor head injuries.

Ms McGonagle had a broken wrist, a bump on the back of her head and a laceration to her leg.

Caroline Murphy, a witness who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident and waited with Ms McGonagle for the ambulance, told the court that she overheard the injured party telling ambulance personel that her eldest child had gotten away from her and that she ran after him.

Ms McGonagle, however, said that she could not remember making this comment.

Following a lengthy hearing, Judge Bernadette Owens concluded that Ms Giemza was not guilty of careless driving.

“It’s obvious from the evidence that weather conditions were extremely difficult,” she said, noting that CCTV footage shown in court showed people running into the shop to escape the heavy rain.

“The only independent evidence we have is Ms Murphy and she had no reason to give evidence with regards to something Ms McGonagle had said if it didn’t happen.

“It would seem an accident did happen in the middle of the road. There is no evidence of speeding and there was a pedestrian crossing close by,” she said, noting that any motorist would reasonably assume pedestrians would cross there.

“I’m dismissing the careless driving charge,” she said.

However, Ms Giemza was convicted for no insurance and fined €250 with four months to pay. She was also disqualified for two years.

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Over €2.5m in financial support has been allocated to eight Longford schools under the Summer Works Scheme, forming part of a near €6m investment in education, infrastructure and travel this week

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