Drunk driver who killed GAA coach jailed for four years

Rene Miko knocked down Eugene McNamara in Ennis, Co Clare more than two years ago

Rene Miko of Place de Plouzane, Kilrush, Co Clare, pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Court to drink driving and dangerous driving causing death.  Photograph: Eamon Ward

Rene Miko of Place de Plouzane, Kilrush, Co Clare, pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Court to drink driving and dangerous driving causing death. Photograph: Eamon Ward

 

A drunk driver has been jailed for four years for dangerous driving causing the death of GAA coach Eugene McNamara (42) in Co Clare.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys imposed a six year jail term, suspending the final two years, on Rene Miko (21) of Place de Plouzane, Kilrush.

Judge Keys also imposed a 15 year driving ban.

Miko was twice over the drink driving limit and driving at a speed of 120km/h when the BMW car he took without permission struck Mr McNamara.

The victim was walking on a footpath at a roundabout in a built-up area in Ennis at 10.05pm on October 26th, 2016 when he was knocked down.

CCTV footage of the crash showed Miko and his passenger get out of their car and flee the scene.

Mr McNamara died a number of days later from his injuries.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Keys described Miko’s driving as ‘reckless’ on the night.

Miko pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Mr McNamara and drink driving on the date.

Mr McNamara’s parents, TJ and Breda along with brothers, Stephen, Barry and identical twin, David were present for the sentencing.

In a victim impact statement on behalf of his family, Stephen McNamara, a double All-Ireland winner with the Clare hurlers from the 1990s, said his brother “was left to suffer alone on the side of the road”.

He said

the “nightmare” caused from that night is constantly with the McNamara family “and the circumstances around Eugene’s death are always on our minds”.

He said Eugene was one of four sons and even after purchasing his own home would have dinner at his parents’ house every day. He said Eugene’s “chair at the family table is now empty and that is a constant reminder”.

Judge Keys told Miko he has caused “a devastating effect on the McNamara family”.

On the aggravating factors in the case, Judge Keys stated that Miko’s driving caused the death of an innocent pedestrian while walking on the footpath; the speed at which he was driving; that he was twice over the drink driving limit; left the scene of the crash and he had taken the car without the owner’s consent.

He noted Miko had make an early guilty plea, co-operated at Garda interview, has shown remorse and has no previous convictions.

Judge Keys said Miko comes from Slovakia, has nine siblings and had a difficult upbringing on account on his family’s relatively impoverished status and as well as suffering ongoing racial discrimination in his home place.

The judge noted Miko came to Ireland in 2006 aged nine. His partner is expecting their second child together.

Judge Keys stated that whatever sentence is imposed, the court cannot turn back the clock and alleviate the hurt and loss that the McNamara family have suffered.

CCTV footage shown in Court captured the high speed of the BMW on the night and Mr McNamara walking along the footpath opposite McDonalds in Ennis before the fatal impact.

The car was travelling at more than twice the local speed limit of 50km/h.

Before Miko’s car struck Mr McNamara, it first hit another car, sending it airborne and spinning a number of times.

The Garda investigation found that Miko’s car made no effort to reduce its 120kmph speed before coming into the roundabout.