Man jailed for five years after fatal crash

Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 00:00

A motorist has been jailed for five years and banned from driving for 30 years for causing the death of a Co Limerick couple.

Michael Harty (30) of St Mary’s Terrace, Askeaton, Co Limerick had almost twice the legal alcohol limit when he caused a crash which killed Maurice Hartnett (61) and his wife, Margaret (59), at Ardtomin, Askeaton, Co Limerick on July 29th, 2009.

Harty was on the wrong side of the road when his Toyota Rav 4x4 collided with the Hartnetts’ Volkswagen Caddy as they were driving to their home in Gurteen, Ballingarry, Co Limerick.

Dead at scene

Mrs Hartnett, a mother of six, was found dead at the scene of the crash, which took place shortly after 5.30pm. Her husband, a tiler, was in cardiac arrest when he was admitted to the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick and was pronounced dead less than half an hour later.

Harty had denied dangerous driving causing the death of the couple but was convicted by a jury at Limerick Circuit Court last month.

Yesterday, at his sentencing hearing, Elizabeth Hartnett, one of the couple’s children, spoke of the devastation and heartbreak of losing both parents so suddenly.

“We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Mam and Dad and they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to us and this will haunt us to the day we die,” she said.

Drinking

During the trial evidence it was heard that Harty drank in two pubs in the hours before the crash.

He suffered massive internal bleeding and was “at risk of dying” when he was admitted to the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

Gardaí had requested a blood alcohol test be carried out but this was refused by doctors because of his serious medical condition.

Harty’s hospital records, which included a laboratory report, were allowed as evidence to prove his alcohol level on the day of the crash.

In the course of legal argument concerning the admissibility of this evidence, it was accepted by the prosecution that there was no consent from the accused to the obtaining of the lab report. However, the judge ruled the reports were admissible.