Man who struck girl (6) after breaking red light on Malahide Road is jailed

Pain: Young Jennifer eeded emergency surgery to remove a broken bone which was located dangerously close to an artery in her leg
Pain: Young Jennifer eeded emergency surgery to remove a broken bone which was located dangerously close to an artery in her leg

A man who drove a car through a red light at a pedestrian crossing, flinging a girl into the air and breaking her leg has been jailed for a year and banned from driving for four years.

Martin Joyce (19) was previously convicted on June 29 last (2015) of failing to remain at the scene of an accident which took place on November 15, 2014.

A month after that accident Joyce broke a red light after exiting the Darndale roundabout on Dublin's Malahide Road and hit the six-year-old pedestrian with his van.

Joyce of Cromcastle Court, Kilmore, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Jennifer Casey at the Malahide Road, Coolock on the evening of December 17, 2014.

The child's mother Jennifer Squires was taking Jennifer and her brother Thomas to church where he was singing in the Christmas choir. The family had crossed the first set of lights and were waiting on a traffic island for the next set to go green.

When the lights went green Jennifer went on ahead. Ms Squires told gardai later that she then saw the green van come at speed from the roundabout and hit her daughter. The child went up into the air and landed on the van's bonnet.

The van then went over her. Ms Squires went over to her child and saw her eyes were closed and thought she was dead. Someone found the victim had a pulse and the Dublin Fire Brigade brought her to hospital.

Read: Six-year-old victim of hit-and-run "in a lot of pain" after suffering horrific leg injuries.

The child's femur was fractured and she suffered abdominal injuries. Garda Jacinta Naughton told Pieter LeVert BL, prosecuting, that she has made a good recovery. She was in a wheelchair for weeks after the accident but the court heard that surgical nails would be removed from her bone in due time.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was a “gravely aggravating factor” that Joyce left the scene and said it was for this reason that he was imposing a custodial sentence.

The judge imposed a two year sentence with the final one suspended and disqualified Joyce from driving for four years from today. 

A victim impact report written by Ms Squires stated that the child suffered nightmares and was afraid of the road. Her older brother also suffered nightmares about the accident.

Investigators identified Joyce as a suspect from CCTV footage and two days after the accident the van was seized from outside his grandmother's home.

Three days later Joyce went to gardai and told them he had knocked the girl down. He said it was a genuine accident and that he had not been thinking straight since.

“I heard a bang. I didn't know whether I'd hit a person or a dog. I didn't know what to do,” he said. He said he learned from news report that he had hit a child and said he was quite upset.

In a letter to the court Joyce said: “I’m sorry, I’m truly sorry. I have to live with it for the rest of my life, it was a mistake”.

Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, accepted that speed was an aggravating factor in the case but did not accept that the speed was very excessive.

“If very excessive speed was a factor the injuries would have been far greater,” he said.

He presented positive employment references for his client to the court and said his client has demonstrated that he could make a positive contribution to society. He said there were dangers involved in putting a man in his position into custody.

By Declan Brennan