Driver jailed for eight months over death of boy in hit and run
Court told Dean Shelley driving without motor tax and over speed limit when he hit Lee Henry
Paul Henry pictured outside court holding a framed photo of his son Lee (13) who was killed in the hit and run. Photograph: Collins Courts
A driver who caused the death of a teenage boy in a fatal hit and run has been jailed for eight months.
Lee Henry (13) and a group of his friends were running across a road when he was struck by a black VW Golf driven by Dean Shelley (29). Investigations later determined that the car was driving at up to 80km/h in a 60km/h zone.
Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Karen O’Connor said the case was aggravated by the nature of the offending, the distress caused to the family and the accused driving in excess of the speed limit.
She said the mitigating factors in the case were the guilty plea, the accused’s admissions, his presenting himself at a garda station, his troubled background, his impressive work record and his significant remorse and regret.
She said the grief felt by the family was evident and palpable and that Shelley’s leaving of the scene had caused significant pain to them.
Judge O’Connor sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, but suspended the final ten months of the sentence on strict conditions including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for 12 months after his release.
After sentence was handed down, a man attempted to move towards the area in the court where Shelley was standing, but other people in the body of the court held this man back.
A second man moved towards the same area, but he was stopped by a garda as he reached the dock and was brought to the ground.
Prior to sentencing Paul Carroll SC, defending, told the court that his client was assaulted outside the court. He said his client’s lip was cut and he was punched.
Abandoned his car
At an earlier hearing Detective Sergeant Noel Smith told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that on the date in question at around 9pm, a group of four teenage boys ran across the road as Shelley approached the pedestrian crossing in his car.
Det Sgt Smith said Shelley’s car struck the boy and carried him for some distance on the bonnet before the car braking caused the child to fall onto the road. The boy was attended at the scene by emergency services and pronounced dead in Temple Street Hospital at 12:15am.
Shelley did not stop at the scene and was pursued by gardaí to the back of the nearby Clare Hall housing estate where he abandoned his car and climbed over a wall. Gardaí discovered his wallet and driving licence within the abandoned car.
There was considerable damage to the bumper of the car and the windscreen had “basically caved in” on top of the driver.
Det Sgt Smith said a collision investigator estimated that Shelley was driving faster than the road’s 60km/h speed limit and was probably driving around 80km/h. The investigator concluded that it would be very hard to see anyone running from the side due to hedging and the layout of the road.
Shelley arrived at Finglas Garda Station with his father at around 11pm and informed them he thought he had hit someone or something. In interview, Shelley said he panicked and drove away due to his tax disk being expired and he was afraid his car would be seized.
The accused had been stopped earlier in the day due to his tax being expired and his car was not seized. He has 12 previous convictions, including convictions for possession of drugs, no insurance and other road traffic matters.
In a victim impact statement, which was read out in court on behalf of the family, the deceased’s mother said her son was the youngest of four brothers and loved being a big brother to his little sister.
She said he got high marks in secondary school and wanted to be a solicitor or a judge. He loved sports, particularly GAA, and was a massive fan of Dublin.
The court heard that before he left the house on the date of his death he said, “Love you Ma, I’ll be home in a while, leave my dinner in the oven”. She said these were the last words her son ever said to her.
When the family arrived to the hospital after the collision, they were told he had suffered a catastrophic brain injury and that nothing more could be done for him, she said.The family got to sit with him for a while, give him a kiss and say goodbye.
The woman said she held her son’s hand while his heart stopped, hoping that he would open his eyes. The hardest part was that her son would never go to college, get married or go for a drink with his brothers and his father.
Every day she woke up hoping it was a nightmare, his mother said.
Judge O’Connor said the victim impact statement made it clear the deceased was a very impressive young man.
Det Sgt Smith agreed with Patrick Carroll SC, defending, that there was another incident in the area moments before the collision and that the group of four teenage boys went over to it out of curiosity.
One of the teenagers gave a statement to gardaí in which he said the group were told to leave the area. He said a garda van began driving towards them and they ran as they thought they were being chased.
Det Sgt Smith also agreed with Mr Carroll that the boys had run across the road without waiting for the traffic lights to change and that Shelley had a green light.
Mr Carroll said the defendant is the father of a young son, but that his relationship with the child’s mother broke down in the immediate aftermath of the collision. He said his client apologised for what he did, particularly leaving the scene without trying to help.