Man convicted of causing girlfriend’s death breaks down in tears after guilty verdict

Kenneth Darby said he could not understand why he was going in the wrong direction

 Jenna-eve Smyth (25) died on  June 18th, 2016

Jenna-eve Smyth (25) died on June 18th, 2016

 

A driver convicted of causing the crash that killed his girlfriend in Co Meath three years ago broke down in tears when the jury returned its guilty verdict at Trim Circuit Court on Friday.

Kenneth Darby (29), with an address at Ashfield, Clonard, Co Meath, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Jenna-eve Smyth (25) on June 18th, 2016 at Kilmurray, Enfield, on the Kinnegad - Enfield road.

The defendant’s car, a silver 04 VW Bora, had rounded a gentle sweeping bend and had been on the wrong side of the road when it crashed sideways into the front of an oncoming black 05 Megane, Trim Circuit Court heard.

The victim had been the front seat passenger in the defendant’s car.

Emer France Alhadri, who was driving the Megane towards Maynooth on the old Dublin-Galway road, told prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe BL the crash occurred at about 8.55pm.

She said the Bora was halfway over the white line when it came round the bend very fast and “then went like a snake left and right three times as if the driver was trying to take control of the car”.

She said she thought the other car was going to tumble on top of her.

“My initial reaction was: I hope he doesn’t hit me. As he got closer I thought I was going to die. I slammed on the brakes and heard a bang,”she said.

In a later statement to gardaí, Darby said he had collected Ms Smyth from her work in Mullingar earlier that evening and dropped her home to Killucan to get ready for a night out in Enfield.

He said he returned home and was to collect her later.

He said he did not remember picking her up at her home and only remembered waking up in hospital.

He could not understand why he had been going in the Kinnegad direction at the time of the crash as he should have been driving in the Enfield direction.

Gardaí who examined the scene and the two cars involved told the court the road where the crash occurred had been wet and greasy on the night following recent rain and neither car had been mechanically defective.

The court heard that neither occupant in the defendant’s car had been wearing seat belts.

Garda Thomas Brennan, a forensic collision investigator, said he concluded the crash was due to driver error.

He said the defendant’s car was going in a sideways manner and he concluded that Kenneth Darby had lost control of the vehicle.

Inseparable

After the jury of seven men and five women returned the guilty verdict Judge Martina Baxter invited the victim’s father Des Smyth to address the court.

Mr Smyth said that Jenna-eve had been working in the family’s shop in Mullingar at the time of her death.

He said that after she had secured her university degree she insisted on working in the family business with him to get the money to study for a master’s degree.

“We were inseparable and travelled to work together. We used say the Rosary in the car on our way in each morning,” he said.

Mr Smyth said his daughter knew all the customers by name and everyday even now someone comes into the shop and recalls her time there.

“She stole everyone’s heart and was the most lovable little girl anyone could think of. I still think she is going to come running down that hall but I know that’s not going to happen’, he said.

He added that the family would never get over her death.

Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC told the court that his client was now in a new relationship and his partner was expecting a baby in the coming weeks and requested time to enable him to get his affairs in order.

Judge Baxter remanded Darby on bail for sentence in October.