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Court of Appeal Woman paralysed in crash speaks of relief after driver fails in bid to restore driving licence


Lydia Branley and her family.

Lydia Branley and her family.

Lydia Branley and her family.

A women who was left paralysed after the car she was a passenger in crashed into a field at high speed has told of her relief after the driver lost a second bid to get his licence back. 

Lydia Branley was a front-seat passenger when Martin Kearney – who had his licence restored in 2009 after getting a five-year ban in 2007 – lost control of his BMW 3.2 coupe when he turned off Sligo-Dublin N4 road onto a slip road near Ballisodare whilst driving at 150 km/h, in September 2010.

The car rolled for 100 metres before hitting a pole in a field and ending up in stream.

Ms Branley had only recently graduated with a first-class honours in civil engineering and had been offered a job at the Irish Aviation Authority when she was pulled from the wreckage.

She was later forced to spend nine months in a coma as she recovered from her injuries and was left unable to eat or talk without assistance.

Kearney (40) of Castlefield Manor, Ballina, Co Mayo, was later jailed for four years in 2012 by Judge Anthony Hunt at Sligo Circuit Court after admitting dangerous driving causing serious harm to Ms Branley, who was 25 at the time of the accident. He was also banned from the roads for 20 years.

The driving ban was later appealed and reduced to 12 years in December 2014.

A bid by Kearney last February to have his licence restored was rejected by Judge Francis Comerford at Sligo Circuit Criminal Court.

Kearney later launched an appeal against this decision, with his barrister Liam Dockery BL telling the Court of Appeal on Thursday (Feb 11) that Judge Comerford had erred in law in refusing the application to restore the licence under Section 29 (1) of the Road Traffic Act 1961.

He said his client had been off the road for 10 years now, and that the 12-year ban had been an “entirely punitive solution with no restorative element all”.

Leo Mulrooney BL, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court said Ms Branley that was in the courtroom and was following the proceedings in person.

Mr Mulrooney said that Judge Comerford was correct to dismiss Kearney’s application to have his licence restored.

Mr Justice John Edwards said the Court of Appeal had also decided to reject the application.

Speaking outside court, Ms Branley’s representatives said she had found attending court tiring and stressful but she was happy with the outcome.

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“He had already been banned and shouldn’t have even been driving that night,” a spokesperson said.

“We can only hope that this thing never happens to anyone else.”

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