Suspended sentence for driver as cyclist left unable to speak or walk

Robert Faherty (63) driving without headlights when Grainne Duncan’s bike hit car

A man whose careless driving left a cyclist without the ability to speak, walk or hear has been given a suspended sentence of nine months’ imprisonment.

Robert Faherty (63) was driving without headlights when Grainne Duncan’s bike hit his car. Mr Faherty was starting out on his journey on the evening of February 4th, 2015 and had driven for 200 metres before the crash.

Judge Pauline Codd said this was not a typical case of careless driving, and there was a difference between a person engaged in patently dangerous behaviour and a momentary lapse of attention by a driver otherwise engaged in careful driving.

She noted that Mr Faherty was a man with no previous convictions and a clean driving record. She said he is an upstanding and decent member of the community.


Psychiatric report

Judge Codd also noted a psychiatric report describing his “real, palpable and significant” distress and remorse at the results of his driving.

She did not impose a ban on his driving after hearing he uses his car on a daily basis and that his own father who lives in Galway is in ill health.

Faherty (63), of Elton Walk, Ard na Greine, Dublin, pleaded guilty last February at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of careless driving causing serious harm.

Ms Duncan (45) was in a coma for two months after the incident and only became aware of her situation recently, which has resulted in her requiring treatment for depression.

Judge Codd said the incident left Ms Duncan in a vegetative state and she now requires “100 per cent help” with her general wellbeing.

The court heard that neither speed nor alcohol were a factor in the incident and that road conditions were normal.

Garda Keith Murphy said Ms Duncan had been cycling on the left side of the road when she decided to turn right at a junction with Greencastle Road. Both parties had a green light.

Garda Murphy said the main contributing factor to the incident was that Ms Duncan was unable to see Mr Faherty’s car because he did not have his lights on.

“I think that she may have noticed the car when she went to make the turn, but by then it was too late,” Garda Murphy said. “It would have been completely safe for her to make the turn if there had not been oncoming traffic,” he added.

The court heard Ms Duncan was wearing a high-vis jacket and a helmet and had a light on her bike at the time of the incident.