Motorist’s ‘momentary lapse’ leaves cyclist with life changing injuries

Karen Cohalan (53) fined €4,000 as judge urges people driving to ‘take that second look’

A judge has urged motorists to ‘take that second look’ for cyclists when manoeuvring as she fined a woman whose careless driving left a young man with permanent injuries.

A judge has urged motorists to ‘take that second look’ for cyclists when manoeuvring as she fined a woman whose careless driving left a young man with permanent injuries.

 

A judge has urged motorists to “take that second look” for cyclists when making a manoeuvre as she fined a woman whose careless driving left a young man with permanent injuries.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Karen Cohalan (53) had a “momentary lapse” in making a late decision to turn left without indicating and hitting a cyclist travelling in the same direction as her.

He suffered a head injury and is now 50 per cent deaf in one ear and has lost his sense of smell.

Cohalan, of Port View, Thorncastle Street, Dublin 4, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing serious bodily harm to Aengus Cunningham (25) at South Lotts Road, Ringsend on March 20th, 2019. The defendant, a chartered accountant and mother of two, has no previous convictions.

Judge Pauline Codd noted in assessing Cohalan’s culpability that there were three elements involved - the last minute decision to effect a turn at a junction, a failure to indicate and, despite having checked her rear view mirror, there was a failure to keep a look out while making a turn.

Judge Codd said this sounded like a high degree of culpability but in reality it had occurred in a split second and involved a “momentary lapse.” She said the incident occurred at a very busy junction and the defendant should have shown more care in effecting the turn.

She took into account Cohalan’s “impeccable character” personally and professionally, her guilty plea and her genuine remorse that she had displayed throughout the process. She said Cohalan was not a person who was likely to come before the courts again.

She noted Mr Cunningham’s injuries were life changing and the effects on him permanent.

Judge Codd said there was no requirement for a personal deterrent here in sentencing but perhaps there was for a general deterrent in showing more care on the road and looking out for cyclists.

“Take that second look,” said Judge Codd, noting motor vehicles could cause serious injury.

She imposed a €4,000 fine to be paid within one year and imposed the mandatory disqualification of four years.

She wished Mr Cunningham well in his recovery and noted his graciousness in accepting Cohalan’s remorse as genuine.