Prison sentence for hit and run that killed teenager

Conor Hickey (14) died after he was struck by an addict on his way to buy drugs


A Meath drug addict who was on his way to buy drugs when he fatally injured a 14-year-old boy in a hit and run has received a 20 month prison sentence.

When gardaí arrested Ruadhan Tracey (33) two months after the incident he told them he knew it was because he had knocked the boy down, saying: “Conor Hickey, I will never forget that name”.

Tracey has 36 previous convictions. Last July Judge Mary Ellen Ring imposed a ten year jail term, with two years suspended for a spate of armed robberies including one in which he left a shop worker in need of 24-hour care after stabbing him with a syringe.

These offences were carried out after the hit and run. The twenty month term will run alongside the ten year sentence meaning he will serve no extra time in prison.

The maximum penalty available to the court for careless driving causing death is two years and the maximum penalty for leaving the scene of an accident is six months.

Tracey of Lagore Green, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing the death of Conor Hickey at Fassaugh Road, Cabra, Dublin on December 2, 2011. He also admitted a charge of failing to remain at the scene of that accident.

Judge Ring said she was bound by the legislation and that she must also give credit to Tracey for entering a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and his genuine remorse expressed at a very early stage.

She said: “He has to live with the consequences of being a man who drove a vehicle which killed a boy. He wasn’t even man enough to stay or present himself.”

She imposed concurrent sentences of four months for the hit and run offence and 20 months for the careless driving causing death.

Tracey told gardaí after his arrest that he felt numb since he learned on the news that the boy died. He claimed the lights were green and said: “I took my eye off the road for one second and then bang. I saw a shadow. I didn’t think it was a person”.

He told them he looked back and saw the commotion on the road but didn’t stop because he had no insurance and no tax on the car.

He said he panicked and went on to collect the drugs he had set out to collect in the city. He said he “got f**ked up” but was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he hit the boy.

John Hickey, the victim’s father, said his son’s death has hit the family like a tsunami and has left a trail of destruction.

Reading from a victim impact report from the family he said: “Before December 2011 life for my family was very different and as close to perfect as you could get. Conor was in 2nd year preparing for his Junior Certificate.

“It’s impossible to describe the effects a tragedy like this does to a family. It’s like a tsunami that hits a family. It takes everything away in a flash.

“To say it’s a family’s worst nightmare to lose a child, I cannot think of anything else that could devastate a family more”.

His mother Margaret Hickey said she feels a pain in her chest which no pills can cure.

In the family victim impact statement she said: “No day goes by when I don’t ask myself the question why, why did this happen?”

The boy’s sister Claire wrote: “Conor wasn’t just a brother but also my best friend. Since December 2nd, 2011 my life has changed forever. I’ve the biggest hole in my heart . I struggle to concentrate in college.

“Conor was such an amazing character. No justice will return our Conor to his family. I feel we have a life sentence for the rest of our natural lives.”

Detective Garda John Brady told Pieter LeVert BL, prosecuting, that the victim had finished school that Friday and went straight to a local library to do his homework. He said he went home at around four o’clock to eat his dinner and do his household chores before going out to meet up with friends.

A short time later his mother heard an ambulance and commented that she hoped no-one would be getting a knock on their door. Shortly afterwards a neighbour called around and told her Conor had been hit. The family went to Temple Street Children’s Hospital where doctors told them he had suffered severe brain damage.

Mrs Hickey cried in court as Det Gda Brady said that the following day a brain scan revealed there was no brain activity. He said the family made the decision to turn off the life support system at 3.40pm on September 4. His parents asked for his organs to be donated.

A post mortem revealed that the child died as a result of head injuries.

Traumatised witnesses who were in cars at the junction of Faussagh road told gardai they saw the boy waiting to cross the street. They said the lights were in their favour and he was free to cross the street.

They said the car was travelling at speed and that it came out of nowhere and hit the young boy as soon as he put his foot on the road.

Witness John Blake said: “It was like a car came out of nowhere. I had a good view of the road so it must have been flying.” He said the boy was hit without warning and the car didn’t appear to slow down or brake.

Padraic Dwyer SC, defending, said his client had a chronic drug addiction. He said Tracey was sorry for the grief he has caused the Hickey family and if he could take back his actions he would.

Judge Ring said Tracey had gone on a rampage of robberies after the road collision.

As Tracey was led away by prison officers a member of the public shouted “Shame on you, scumbag”.