Wrong-way driver who killed one, injured two is jailed for six years

Motorist on dual carriageway at time, bailed and disqualified from driving for 10 years

Thomas Doran was jailed for six years but asked to speak at the end of the hearing and said: ‘I just want to say I am very, very sorry, deeply sorry.’ File photograph: The Irish Times

Thomas Doran was jailed for six years but asked to speak at the end of the hearing and said: ‘I just want to say I am very, very sorry, deeply sorry.’ File photograph: The Irish Times

 

A man who drove the wrong way down the N7 dual carriageway in the early hours of the morning causing a crash which killed one man and seriously injured two more has been jailed for six years.

Thomas Doran (29) had been spotted driving dangerously by gardaí in Tallaght, Dublin, before the collision but they had stopped the pursuit as it was unsafe to continue.

Doran drove 700m down the N7 colliding head-on with another car, killing driver Anatolie Butucel and seriously injuring his passenger Serghei Grigoras.

Doran’s uncle, Patrick Connors, who was in the car with him was also injured seriously.

The accused was unco-operative at the scene and refused to give his details.

Gardaí were unable to obtain a specimen for testing from Doran, who was also seriously injured in the crash, as doctors at the hospital said life-preserving treatment was more important at that time.

Seven months in hospital

Butucel and Mr Grigoras were work colleagues who were travelling home that night. Butucel died at the scene from multiple injuries. Mr Grigoras spent seven months in hospital and continues to rehabilitate from his life-changing injuries.

Mr Connors, who was getting a lift home with his nephew, could not remember the crash.

The court heard Doran was “self-medicating” on a “cocktail” of substances after his father’s death earlier that year to such an extent he was unsure how his uncle had come to be in the car.

The defendant, of Clonskeagh Road, Ranelagh, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing Butucel’s death and serious bodily harm to Mr Grigoras and Mr Connors at the N7 Naas dual carriageway on September 21st, 2020.

Doran, who has 64 previous convictions including priors for dangerous and drunk-driving, was on bail and disqualified from driving for 10 years at the time of the crash.

Judge Melanie Greally said that the nature of Doran’s driving that night was “so extreme that death or serious injury was an inevitability”.

She said Butucel is survived by his ex-wife and two daughters. She said it was clear from their victim impact statement that he was a devoted father, both financially and emotionally.

“His daughter laments for the time she did not get to spend with him and the times she has been denied in her future with her father,” said the judge.

Victim-impact statement

She noted from Mr Grigoras’s victim-impact statement the “enormous extent” to which his life had been affected by his injuries.

“He had great hopes and plans for his future, particularly his future in Ireland, ” said the judge. She added that Mr Grigoras’s future opportunities have been reduced considerably now.

The judge accepted that Doran had a difficult childhood in which both alcohol and domestic abuse featured. She said the death of his father in June 2020 “led to emotional turmoil for him due to conflicting emotions” and he binged on alcohol and drugs in an attempt to overcome this. She further accepted that a cognitive function assessment placed him in the extremely low range, his education was curtailed and he has no history of employment.

She set a headline sentence of eight years but took into account Doran’s guilty plea, expression of remorse, including the fact that he had €1,500 in court for Mr Grigoras, his adverse life experiences, poor mental health and addictions.

The judge sentenced Doran to 6½ years in prison with the final six months suspended on strict conditions, including that he engage with the Probation Service for 12 months upon release. She also disqualified him from driving for 20 years.

Doran asked to speak at the end of the hearing and said: “I just want to say I am very very sorry, deeply sorry.”