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Kildare man who blamed his girlfriend for causing car crash that killed her and another woman is jailed

CourtsBy Neil Fetherston
Two women were killed in the crash. FILE PHOTO
Two women were killed in the crash. FILE PHOTO

A Kildare man who blamed his girlfriend for causing a car crash that killed her and another woman has been jailed for seven years and disqualified from driving for 30 years.

James O’Donovan (29) of Athy, County Kildare, was convicted of dangerous driving causing the deaths of Rosanna Potts, his girlfriend, who was sitting in the passenger seat of his car, and Teresa Kiely, who was travelling with her daughter in another car, at Youngstown, Athy on December 27, 2012.

Leanne Kiely told the trial that O’Donovan’s Pajero SUV seemed to drive into the ditch on its own side of the road before swerving into the middle of the road at high speed and striking her mother’s Toyota Prius.

Teresa Kiely, who was driving her daughter to buy supplies for her 16th birthday party, died at the scene. Rosanna Potts was brought to Naas Hospital and was then transferred to The Mater Hospital, where she died three weeks later. Leanne Kiely sustained lacerations and a broken arm.

O’Donovan pleaded not guilty at Naas Circuit Criminal Court. He told gardaí that Ms Potts was pulling on his hoodie and arguing with him in the car before the crash, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.

A Garda forensic investigator gave evidence that the crash, which happened at 4 pm on a day with good driving conditions, was caused by O’Donovan “attempting to manouvre at too high a speed”.

No  evidence of braking was found at the scene.  O’Donovan’s vehicle flipped three times before landing on its wheels, pointing away from the direction it had been driving.

O’Donovan, who was previously convicted for dangerous driving that caused spinal injuries to another driver just two months before the fatal crash, was found guilty by a unanimous jury verdict.

Sentencing at Naas Circuit Criminal Court, sitting in Dublin, Judge Leonie Reynolds said  it was incredible that O’Donovan engaged in negligent driving so soon after his prior conviction and that it was “utterly reprehensible” that O’Donovan had “sought to attribute sole blame to Ms. Potts.”

Judge Reynolds also said that, despite there being no evidence that O’Donovan was intoxicated, the offence was at the higher end of the scale and that he had “scant regard for the safety of others”.

She refused a petition from Damien Colgan SC, defending, to suspend a part of the sentence.

Mrs Kiely was 49 at the time of the accident and was married with two children. Ms Potts was 22 and had one child.