Suspended prison term for driver who killed cyclist

 

A Lithuanian man who drove on after running over and killing a cyclist in Co Monaghan has been given a suspended prison sentence on condition that he leaves Ireland within 21 days.

Judge Patrick McCartan told Zigimantas Gridzuiska (39), Adross Avenue, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, that the community would be “much better off” if he left than if he was sent to Mountjoy Prison.

Gridzuiska pleaded guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin to failing to stop at the scene of a crash, failing to stay at the scene and failing to report the crash to gardaí. He also pleaded guilty to driving a defective vehicle. He was acquitted last month of dangerous driving.

Shane O’Farrell (23) was killed on August 2nd, 2011, when he was cycling on the N2 Dublin to Derry road between Carrickmacross and Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

Ronan Kennedy, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court the crash happened at 10.15pm and there were no brake marks on the road. Gridzuiska had continued driving his turquoise blue Rover 500 for some distance.

Extensive damage

The car had extensive damage on the left side including a partly shattered windscreen and a dent in the roof, Mr Kennedy said. Gridzuiska left his car in a friend’s garden and walked home. He handed himself in to gardaí the following day.

Garda John Callinan from Carrickmacross Garda station said Gridzuiska had 49 other convictions including 17 in Lithuania and 12 in Northern Ireland. The offences included theft, aggravated theft, drug possession, malicious damage and handling stolen property as well as nine road traffic offences. The court also heard Gridzuiska was due to face charges related to insurance next week.

Mitigating factor

Counsel for Gridzuiska, Conor Devally SC, told Judge McCartan his client was married with one son, who had returned to Lithuania. His wife was employed in Carrickmacross. What happened on August 2nd was “horrific”, Mr Devally said, and his client’s failure to remain at the scene had made the situation worse. His decision to present himself at the Garda station was a mitigating factor, he said. And he had to live with the consequences of what he had done.

The judge described Gridzuiska as a “massive liability” on the community. It was “unbelievable” that within weeks he was caught driving with no insurance, the judge said.

He sentenced Gridzuiska to a total of eight months in prison, suspended on condition that he left Ireland within 21 days and did not return for 10 years.

He also banned him from driving for 10 years as an “additional incentive to move on”.