Drunk driver who killed two friends claimed one was driving car

Dermot Dowd pleaded guilty to causing a crash which resulted in the deaths

A drunk-driver who killed two women in a car crash in Co Donegal blamed one of the women for driving the car.

Dermot Dowd (24) appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to causing a crash which resulted in the deaths of friends Kiara Baird (19) and Maria Wallace (38).

The two women died when the car Dowd was driving struck lamppost near Ballybofey in September 2016. He had downed several drinks before getting in the car, which he lost control of just after 4pm.

Gardaí arrived at the scene and found the two victims had been thrown from the Citroen C3 car. Dowd initially told gardaí that Ms Wallace had been driving.


Ms Baird died at the scene and Wallace was rushed to hospital but died a short time later.

Dowd, of Donegal Road, Ballybofey, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the women’s deaths, dangerous driving, drink-driving, driving without insurance and driving without a licence.


The court heard that both women had been studying with the Education Training Board and had decided to go for drinks in Bonner’s Bar in Ballybofey. They met Dowd in the bar and they began drinking together.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Baird’s mother Tracy said they had moved from Dublin to Donegal to start a new life as they felt their neighbourhood was getting rough. She said her daughter was a little naive and took people at face value. She had the most beautiful smile and was always happy.

“I really could never express how much I miss and love her, and how lost we all are without her,” she said.

“I have lost people in my life who I have truly cared about, but the loss of Kiara was nothing I have ever experienced...It’s like something broke into my chest and just ripped out my heart.”

In her victim impact statement Maria Wallace’s mother, Mary McGonagle said all she wanted was justice for her daughter. “For me there is no pills or operation I could have to heal my broken heart.”

Further victim impact statements were read on behalf of Ms Baird’s father, Andrew Blake, and a poem by Ms Wallace’s brother, Michael was also read out.

Dowd’s counsel, Colm Smyth, SC, said his client had often wondered why he was not killed in the accident.

“He is troubled by the fact that he survived this accident and his two passengers did not,” he said. “He accepts full responsibility and that he needs to be punished. But regardless of the sentence, he will be doing the sentence for the rest of his life.”

The court heard that Dowd has 30 previous convictions for a range of offences including theft and the sale and supply of drugs but has no convictions for traffic offences.

Judge John Aylmer adjourning sentencing until Friday.