Man jailed for leaving scene of accident in which German student was seriously injured

Driver told insurance company he had hit a dog


A man who drove off after seriously injuring a student at a pedestrian crossing and claimed he had hit a dog when having his car repaired the next day, has been sentenced to five years in prison with the final two suspended.

Stella Hoffman (25), a German Erasmus student, was crossing at the pedestrian lights at Terryland in Galway at 9pm on January 15th last year when she was hit by a car driven by security guard John Folan (42), The Orchard, Oughterard. Ms Hoffman’s pelvis was broken in two places and she also suffered fractures to her skull, nose and right cheekbone.

Garda Mark Shine, who investigated the incident, told Galway Circuit Court the woman was in constant pain and had been told there might be complications if she became pregnant.

Folan pleaded guilty to dangerous driving which caused serious injury. The facts were admitted in a second charge of making a false claim on his insurance.

Analysis of paint samples from Ms Hoffman’s clothes, coupled with that of a wing mirror found at the scene, concluded the car involved was a dark blue Nissan Juke. Garda Shine said he contacted the local Nissan dealership in Galway and had been told that Folan had brought his 2010 Nissan Juke car in for repair on January 16th, the day after the accident. He told them he had hit a dog. Folan later made a claim on his insurance for €3,043 to cover the cost of the repair.

Garda Shine said he arrested Folan on May 16th last year. He admitted driving through a red light and to looking in his rear-view mirror and seeing a person lying on the road as he drove away.

Garda Shine said the victim was flown home to Germany by air ambulance.

Geri Silke, defending, said her client worked as a security guard for many years in a factory and took a simple view of things. He had brought €10,000 to court as a token of his remorse and €3,040 for the insurance firm. She said he panicked and went into shock w hen it happened but was now very remorseful and ashamed and had written a letter of apology to Ms Hoffman.

Judge Rory McCabe said that leaving the scene of an accident in a panic was a natural reaction but the way in which Folan had acted afterwards was morally reprehensible.