Man (19) told he will have to live knowing he killed another man in car crash

Accused pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death of 55-year-old Andrezej Obalek

 A two-year sentence for dangerous driving causing death was imposed but suspended while  Power McCarthy was also disqualified from driving for seven years. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

A two-year sentence for dangerous driving causing death was imposed but suspended while Power McCarthy was also disqualified from driving for seven years. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A talented young soccer player would always have to live with the fact that he had killed another man in a three car collision, said a judge as he echoed the thoughts of the dead man’s sister when handing down a two-year suspended sentence for the offence.

Edward Power McCarthy (19) received the suspended sentence and was banned from driving for seven years after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Polish national of Andrezej Obalek (55) at Ballybeg, Buttevant on the main Cork-Limerick Road on February 18th, 2020.

Imposing sentence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Sean O Donnabhain said that he hoped the victim impact statement made by Mr Obalek’s sister, Urszula Obalek-Owstrowska would never be forgotten by Power McCarthy from College Avenue, Moyross, Limerick.

Ms Obalek-Owestrowska was not in court but in her victim impact statement, which Judge O Donnabhain read from, she outlined the impact that the death of her brother, a Jehovah Witness, had on her, describing him as “a warm, patient, understanding man”.

“Andrezej’s death caused a great gap in my life that I cannot fill with anything. I am still waiting for his calls, text messages, full of optimism. You robbed me of this forever. I believe that the greatest punishment for you will be living with the knowledge that you have killed a great man.”

Lost control

Commenting, Judge O Donnabhain said: “I hope the victim impact statement by Mr Obalek’s sister is burned into his brain and he never forgets it – it is a belief that she has expressed to bring out the hurt that she has felt over the loss of her brother.”

Sgt Tony Cronin told the court that on the night in question, Power McCarthy was returning home to Limerick from a training session with Cork City FC U-19 team with whom had recently signed and he had three passengers in the car, including another Cork City FC U-19 player, Josh Quinlivan.

As Power McCarthy came through the Ballybeg Bends just south of Buttevant at around 10.40pm, he lost control of his car and it crossed into the wrong side of the road, hitting Mr Obalek’s car which was heading south towards Cork and it struck the ditch and Mr Obalek was killed instantly.

Power McCarthy’s car then collided with another car travelling behind Mr Obalek’s car but the driver of the vehicle suffered only minor injuries while Power McCarthy’s car spun around on the road and ended up facing back towards Cork but Power McCarthy and his passengers were uninjured.

Fully co-operated

Sgt Cronin said that Power McCarthy was breathalysed and was found not to have consumed any alcohol or drugs and that he believed the accident was caused simply by Power McCarthy driving at excessive speed into the bends and losing control as he emerged on the Limerick side.

He said that Power McCarthy made himself available to gardaí for interview and had co-operated fully with them while he also confirmed that Power McCarthy had no previous convictions of any kind and had not come to garda attention since the fatal collision.

Power McCarthy took the witness box to express his deep remorse and to apologise for the horror he had caused. “Every day I think of the deceased and I pray to God for him and his family – I never meant to harm anyone and I never set out to do anything like that to anyone,” he said.

Defence counsel, Michael Collins SC pleaded for leniency, reminding Judge O Donnabhain that there were no drugs or drink involved in causing the crash and that his client had no previous convictions and he urged him to deal with the matter by way of a non-custodial sentence.

Judge O Donnabhain said it was a difficult case as the issue essentially came down whether the aggravating factor of speed which caused Power McCarthy to lose control of the car going through the bends, which he should have been familiar with, was sufficient to merit a custodial sentence.

He fully accepted that Power McCarthy was genuine in his apology and expression of remorse for what happened and perhaps the greatest punishment was as Ms Obalek-Ostrowska suggested, living with the knowledge that he was responsible for another person’s death.

Judge O Donnabhain imposed a two-year sentence for dangerous driving causing death but suspended it while he disqualified Power McCarthy from driving for seven years to reflect the aggravating factor of excessive speed which he believed was significant.