| 11.3°C Dublin

Guilty Judge says driver who caused pile-up that killed Irish tradesman showed 'selfish disregard'

Irishman Francis Shanley (36) who was on his way to work, died in the subsequent crash involving at least eight cars and a truck

Close

Tragic Irishman Francis Stanley and his Australian fiancée, Broc Nicholson

Tragic Irishman Francis Stanley and his Australian fiancée, Broc Nicholson

Tragic Irishman Francis Stanley and his Australian fiancée, Broc Nicholson

A judge in Australia has found that a driver who caused a catastrophic pile-up on Sydney's M4 that led to the death of an Irish tradesman showed a "selfish disregard" for other motorists. 

Francis Omigie (55) was found guilty by a jury of dangerous driving occasioning death, and failing to stop and assist in May 2019.

The part-time electrical trades assistant was driving a green Toyota Echo on the motorway before he changed lanes and suddenly stopped in front of another vehicle before continuing to merge.

Irishman Francis Shanley (36) who was on his way to work, died in the subsequent crash involving at least eight cars and a truck at the Church Street off-ramp in Mays Hill, while about 200 metres of debris was left sprawled along the motorway.

An Isuzu truck carrying beer kegs was unable to avoid the pile up on the 'Death Valley' exit before hitting Shanley’s vehicle.

Francis who was a native of Currycramp, Bornacoola, Co Leitrim and is understood to have been living in Australia for about ten years, died at the scene.

Shanley, who had been living in the Sydney suburb of Wentworthville, was engaged to Broc Nicholson who shared an emotional message about his death on Facebook at the time.

“He will be forever in our hearts and sadly missed. I thank you all for your love, support and messages of kind words,” she wrote. “Going to be a long road ahead getting back on our feet... Fly high my beautiful angel I love you forever and always.”

Omigie's lawyer Rajiv Baldeo said he had shown genuine remorse after expressing heartbreak and devastation over his actions.

This included a handwritten letter to Mr Shanley's Australian fiancée, who said in a statement how she was no longer the same person after the tragedy completely transformed her life.

However, Judge Jane Culver laid out in the NSW District Court on Wednesday his "inconsistent" versions as to why he suddenly stopped in front of a car and then attempted to merge across five lanes of near peak-hour traffic.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

The judge dismissed one story of mechanical faults causing him distraction as a lie and said his manoeuvres were a belated attempt to avoid a toll by exiting the major arterial road as he often did on the route to work.

Omigie had failed to stop and help, saying he had no idea of what had occurred behind him and only found out the next day from his wife, but witness accounts described the "extremely loud noise," while one said the crash sounded like metal "louder than a demolition derby".

This prompted the judge to believe Omigie heard something of the disaster unfolding.

"He actually knew when he left the scene that his car was involved in impact of such enormity that he must of known death or grievous bodily harm was occasioned," she said.

She also rejected the notion that his text message about 25 minutes after the crash to his wife about "three near misses," and "I better move on with my life before I end up dead," were purely coincidental.

However, the truck driver carrying about 130 beer kegs who ran over Mr Shanley's Ute that was stationary at the time, did not leave adequate distance to allow enough time to stop, the court found.

Other aggravating factors include Omigie failing to heed repeated warning signs of loud horns and flashing lights from another driver while dangerously merging.

Judge Culver will finish her sentencing of Omigie on Thursday morning.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy