A woman’s leg was broken in three places by a hit-and-run driver, whom a judge suspected had left the scene of the accident because he had drink taken.
Judge Mary Fahy told the 47 year old driver Brian Clancy that it was absolutely disgraceful that he had left an injured woman lying on the ground before fleeing the scene at Blackrock, Salthill, in the early hours of Monday, November 21, 2015.
Clancy, who is from 54 Woodlands, Lackagh, Turloughmore, manages a leisure facility in the city.
He pleaded guilty before Galway District Court last week to failing to stop, failing to report a collision, failing to remain at the scene, driving without insurance and dangerous driving near Dun na Carraige, Blackrock, Salthill on the date in question.
Garda David Murphy gave evidence the woman was alighting from a taxi at 2.40am when she was hit from behind by Clancy’s car.
Clancy fled but the taxi driver called the emergency services and stayed with the woman until help arrived.
Clancy made contact with Gardaí the following day through his solicitor and he came to the Garda Station where he gave a cautioned statement.
The woman was taken by ambulance to UHG where doctors treated her for two fractures to her leg. She underwent emergency surgery that same day and had five screws inserted into her leg to stabilise the fractures.
Garda Murphy said the woman had been in Ireland for a few weeks learning English. She returned home to Spain shortly afterwards and while getting medical treatment there it was discovered she had a third fracture in the same leg.
The leg was put in plaster and the woman was told she would need further surgery.
Garda Murphy said he had been in regular contact with the woman and she was due to undergo the surgery in the next few weeks.
“This poor woman suffered horrific injuries. He had no insurance so everyone else has to pay. It’s absolutely disgraceful,” Judge Fahy said.
Defence solicitor, Brendan O’Connor, said his client had a commercial policy of insurance in place but it didn’t cover him to drive the car he was driving on the night.
“He got the car three days beforehand and didn’t transfer the insurance across because he assumed the insurance policy covered him to drive this car,” Mr O’Connor explained.
Judge Fahy said she was more than suspicious that Clancy left the scene because he had alcohol “on board”.
“Anybody out at 2.40am and knocking someone down, the chances are he had alcohol on board,” Judge Fahy said.
“Why didn’t you stop and help this woman?” the judge asked Clancy.
“I panicked,” Clancy replied.
In reply to Judge Fahy, Clancy admitted he had been out socialising the evening before and had taken alcohol earlier.
He claimed he had “just been out driving” at the time he knocked the woman down.
“You know you shouldn’t have been driving and at the very least you should have stopped,” Judge Fahy said to Clancy.
Mr O’Connor said that was accepted and he added that contact was made with the Gardaí.
“Oh yeah, when he sobered up he made contact. That’s obvious,” Judge Fahy retorted.
Mr O’Connor said his client did make contact and he felt ashamed.
He said Clancy had brought €2,500 to court for the injured party as a token of his remorse and he was aware that civil proceedings had been instituted against him.
Garda Murphy handed an impact statement from the victim into court.
After reading the woman’s statement, Judge Fahy said she was concerned the woman’s prognosis was uncertain as she had to undergo further surgery.
“It’s as bad a case as any I’ve come across. Anyone can have an accident, but the failure to ignore somebody who is injured and then to go to the Gardaí when it suited him, particularly a man in a respectable position; it’s very difficult to understand,” Judge Fahy said.
She sentenced Clancy to four months in prison, which she suspended for twelve months, for failing to stop at the scene, and she disqualified him from driving for four years.
She fined him €800 for dangerous driving and imposed a concurrent two-year disqualification.
A further €600 fine and concurrent two-year disqualification was imposed for driving without insurance, while concurrent one-month, suspended sentences were imposed for the remaining charges.
Judge Fahy commended Garda Murphy for his investigation and for continuing to liaise and help the victim.
She directed the €2,500 be paid to the victim and said she hoped the money would be of some comfort to her while she waited for her civil claim to be processed.