Woman failed to stay at scene of fatal road accident after driving over body – court
Motorist admitted she had driven over Wayne O’Neill after being cautioned when gardaí noticed dent in her vehicle
The court heard that McMulkin’s teenage son, who was a passenger in the car, telephoned gardaí to alert them to the body on the road but they did not return to the scene immediately as requested. File photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times
The failure of a motorist to stay at the scene of a fatal road accident after driving over the victim’s body has been described as “reprehensible” by a judge.
Julieanne McMulkin (40) of Cullenbeg, Mountmellick, Co Laois appeared before Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday for sentencing after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to offer assistance to an injured party in order to avoid criminal or civil liability.
McMulkin, a single mother of five, had also pleaded guilty to a second charge of failing to provide appropriate information to a garda under the Road Traffic Act 1961.
The court heard that McMulkin had driven over the body of Wayne O’Neill as it lay on the carriageway of the N78 Athy-Kilkenny road at Clonbrook, Crettyard, Co Laois on January 21st, 2017, although she was not responsible for his death.
Counsel for the DPP, Will Fennelly BL, said McMulkin had been on the way to collect her mother from a pub in Kilkenny when the incident occurred shortly after 10pm.
McMulkin briefly stopped her vehicle after hitting what she thought was a bag but continued her journey after noticing that it had been a man in dark clothing.
The court heard that McMulkin’s teenage son, who was a passenger in the car, telephoned gardaí to alert them to the body on the road but they did not return to the scene immediately as requested.
A short time later while a bus driver and a first cousin of the victim were stopped at a scene, a second vehicle drove over Mr O’Neill’s body.
Mr Fennelly said McMulkin drove past the accident location on her way back from Kilkenny but dropped her mother home before returning to the scene where she told gardaí she had driven around the body but had not hit it.
The following day, however, she admitted that she had driven over Mr O’Neill after being cautioned when gardaí noticed a dent in the front of her vehicle.
The court heard a forensic collision investigation found that there was no evidence that Mr O’Neill was in a standing position when struck by McMulkin and she was not responsible for his death.
After being arrested in May 2017, McMulkin said she had “simply panicked” as she had been in a state of shock and had left the scene as she did not know what to do.
Sgt Mark O’Connell said Mr O’Neill had been wearing dark clothing on an unlit stretch of road as he was walking to his home at Cloneen, Clough, Castlecomer Co Kilkenny.
In a victim impact statement, Mr O’Neill’s former partner, Lisa Walsh O’Neill, described how the couple’s young son, Cian, was having friends over to their home for his first sleepover on the night they found out he was dead.
“I will never understand why someone would not seek help but would leave the scene and keep on denying responsibility for any wrong-doing,” said Ms Walsh O’Neill.
Taking the witness stand, McMulkin issued an apology to the O’Neill family for having left the scene of the incident
Pleading for leniency, counsel for McMulkin, Padraig Dwyer SC, said his client suffered from depression which was linked to being in an abusive relationship.
Judge Keenan Johnson said it was a very tragic case which had left a huge void in the lives of the victim’s family, while McMulkin’s actions on the night were “reprehensible”.
“It is difficult to understand how a driver who hit someone lying on the road would not remain at the scene,” the judge remarked.
He adjourned sentencing in the case until July 7th.