suspended sentence | 

Teen who ‘bulldozed’ woman with his car while trying to flee scene of crash spared jail

Victim was left with a swollen eye after being knocked over by youth when she stood in front of his car following collision with her vehicle

Patrick O’Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell at the Criminal Courts of Justice today. Photo: Paddy Cummins/PCPhoto.ie© Paddy Cummins - PCPhoto.ie

Sonya McLeanIndependent.ie

A teenager who “bulldozed” a woman with his car after he had accidentally reversed into her vehicle while waiting to exit a busy shopping complex car park has been spared jail.

Patrick O’Donnell (20) was waiting at the barriers of Dundrum Town Centre in south Dublin when he accidentally reversed into the vehicle behind him.

Both drivers got out, and O’Donnell offered to pay the woman for the damage rather than go through his insurance.

Garda Stephen Morley said the woman was concerned that she didn’t know how much the repair would cost and suggested that they go through the insurance. She was on the phone calling the gardaí when O’Donnell got into his car and tried to drive away.

Gda Morley told Garrett Baker BL, prosecuting, that the woman has a hazy recollection of what happened next, but CCTV footage showed that she stood in front of the car in an effort to prevent O’Donnell from driving off.

O’Donnell continued to drive forward slowly, striking the woman several times, before his passenger got out of the car in an effort to move her out of the way.

The woman again refused to move, and after his passenger returned to the car, O’Donnell moved his car before striking the woman a final time, causing her injuries, Gda Morley said.

Patrick O'Donnell at the Criminal Courts of Justice today. Photo: Paddy Cummins/PCPhoto.ie© Paddy Cummins - PCPhoto.ie

O’Donnell, of Abbottstown Avenue, Finglas, Dublin 11, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to the woman at Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin, on December 15, 2020, and dangerous driving. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally asked to be shown the CCTV footage of the incident a second time after Gda Morley finished his evidence.

“What happened was outrageous,” the judge said. “She (the victim) was doing the perfectly correct thing, and it was evident that there were security staff. There were plenty of means by which it could have been appropriately dealt with.”

But she said O’Donnell had “bulldozed” the woman, although she acknowledged he did drive slowly at first.

She said the woman had been persistent in her desire to keep O’Donnell there and what O’Donnell had done was “dangerous in the extreme”.

Judge Greally noted that the woman had pre-existing depression and anxiety and that she “has since suffered very acutely” in terms of her mental well-being.

The judge said the mitigating factors included the early guilty pleas and the expression of remorse from the accused. His lack of previous convictions and the fact that O’Donnell was aged 18 at the time of the offence were also in his favour. She also noted that €1,000 had been handed over in compensation from O’Donnell, which the injured party had accepted.

She was found to have severe bruising around her eye, which was swollen closed for two weeks. She suffered severe headaches that caused her to vomit, and her pre-existing depression worsened

Judge Greally sentenced O’Donnell to two years in prison which she suspended in full. On the count of dangerous driving, she sentenced him to four months in prison which she also suspended in full.

O’Donnell was also banned from driving for four years.

Gda Morley said the woman went to Wexford General Hospital the following day, where she was found to have severe bruising around her eye, which was swollen closed for two weeks. She suffered severe headaches that caused her to vomit, and her pre-existing depression worsened.

The woman said in her victim-impact statement, partly read into the record by Mr Baker, that she found it hard to believe that a young lad would do that to her.

Gda Morley agreed with David Fleming BL, defending, that O’Donnell drove home to his mother immediately after leaving Dundrum and told her what had happened. She told him to go straight to the garda station.

The garda agreed that he was still at Dundrum Town Centre himself, having responded to the call when colleagues at Finglas garda station called him to say O’Donnell had arrived at their station to confess.

He accepted that O’Donnell had immediately offered the woman €100 for the damage in an attempt to avoid going through his insurance, but she was not happy with that.

“He then went down a series of errors and is now before the court in quite a lot of trouble,” Mr Fleming said.

Gda Morley agreed that the woman has also initiated a civil action for the injuries she sustained that day.

Mr Fleming said his client “panicked and just wanted to get out of there”.

“At no time did he want to hurt her. He wanted to give her a fright to get her to move, and he has shown genuine remorse that he has hurt her,” counsel added.

Mr Fleming said his client has since married. He said he was instructed to give an “unreserved apology” to the victim and said O’Donnell is “mortified” by his behaviour.


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