Suspended sentence  | 

Truck driver whose careless driving caused death of father-of-three avoids jail

Imposing a suspended 12-month prison term, Judge O’Callaghan said it would not be of any positive service to the victim's memory that Paul Van Tamlin would be sent to jail
Ennis Circuit Court

Ennis Circuit Court

Gordon Deegan

A 58 year old truck driver whose careless driving caused the death of a father of three outside Ennis has walked free from court.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan, at Ennis Circuit Court, opted not to jail Paul Van Tamlin, of Lough Ramor Camping Caravan Park, Virginia, Co Cavan, for the careless driving causing the death of Crusheen publican, Michael Fogarty on June 5, 2018.

Imposing a suspended 12-month prison term on Van Tamlin, Judge O’Callaghan said it would not be of any positive service to Mr Fogarty’s memory or to society generally that Paul Van Tamlin would be sent to jail.

Mr Fogarty - who had a long involvement with the GAA and also worked as a milkman - was driving his 06-registered red Ford Transit van when it struck from behind by the 08-registered white Volvo articulated truck being driven by Van Tamlin at the exit from the Galway to Limerick motorway to Tulla outside Ennis at around 12.50pm on the Tuesday.

Judge O’Callaghan imposed the suspended prison term after a jury at Ennis Circuit Court found Van Tamlin guilty of careless driving causing death and not guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

In her victim impact evidence, Mr Fogarty’s widow, Bridget Fogarty recalled the moment two gardaí came into her primary school classroom to tell her that her husband of 36 years was killed in a road traffic accident.

The primary school teacher said: “When two members of An Garda Síochána entered my classroom shortly after 2pm on the day, I had no idea what devastating news they were about to convey.

“I flatly refused to accept it and remember accusing them of lying to me.

“I can also recall the dignified silence they maintained as the truth slowly dawned on me. The phone calls that followed were those that nobody wants to make or receive.”

She added: “The thousands of miles that separated me and my children from Croatia to Canada meant that I could not hold my children physically in that awful moment.”

Mr Fogarty left home six days a week at 5am to carry out his milk round and Mrs Fogarty said that he was "a proud breadwinner for the family”.

She said: “I was enjoying the summer sunshine with my class when Michael’s car was rear-ended. I was oblivious to the terror he must have experienced in the final few moments of his life.

“Michael was a devoted and much loved father to our three children, Jim, Edward and Susan but to me he was a soul mate and friend.”

She added: "As a husband, Michael was generous and selfless, loyal and steadfast and most of all fun to be around.”

Mrs Fogarty said Michael’s loss in June 2018 “left a void in all our family’s lives, which was and still is, immense".

“As my retirement from teaching looms, the emptiness and sense of despair for the future cannot be quantified nor expressed in words.”

She added: “My life changed irrevocably on that awful day. Now that I live alone and as my children all live abroad, I find it difficult to find joy."

Judge O’Callaghan said an aggravating factor in the case was that cannabis was found in Van Tamlin’s system but there was no evidence to suggest it impaired his driving.

Van Tamlin was driving within the speed limit and had no previous convictions from driving for 35 years.

Van Tamlin has not driven as a truck driver since and imposing a four year driving ban, Judge O’Callaghan said the ban effectively ends Van Tamlin’s career as a professional driver.

In a letter of apology to the Fogarty family read out in court, Van Tamlin said: “That tragic day ended in the passing of a family man which changed my life forever.

“I would like you to know that not a day has passed since that day when Mr Fogarty hasn’t been in my thoughts.

The four time married UK national said: “I am truly saddened and ashamed to have been part of this fateful day. I apologise unreservedly for not being a more professional driver on that day.”

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