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inquest Daughters of great-grandad killed by drink and drugs driver say they 'do not blame her family'

'You don't send your children out to do something like that'


John 'Pops' Nulty

John 'Pops' Nulty

John 'Pops' Nulty

The family of a great-grandfather who was killed in a car crash by a woman who had consumed alcohol and drugs say they feel for her family.

John "Pops" Nulty (72) of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan, was on his way to a hospital appointment when the car driven by Rachel Coughlan (34) of Creston Avenue, Finglas, crossed into his lane on Drumcondra Road Lower at 6am on March 22, 2019. Both died instantly.

An inquest into Mr Nulty's death last week heard Ms Coughlan had an alcohol level more than four times the legal drink-driving limit, and she had also been using cocaine and some other drugs.

The mother-of-two, who had 36 previous convictions, did not have a valid driving licence at the time.


Rachel Coughlan

Rachel Coughlan

Rachel Coughlan


A taxi driver told the inquest he was involved in a separate collision with Ms Coughlan just minutes before the fatal crash with Mr Nulty, and he had tried to stop her but she drove away.

Mr Nulty was a father of seven, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather.

His daughters Teresa and Paula have said there was only one person at fault in the crash that killed their father, and they hope her family do not take on her guilt.

"You don't send your children out to do something like that," Teresa said.

"I feel for them because no matter what she did, she was their daughter and they have to live with the loss of her, and are probably rearing her kids too, I don't know.

"They might feel they are carrying the guilt of her taking the life of an innocent man.

"I hope they don't because there's nobody at fault here only one person, and that was her," she added.


A garda at the scene of the fatal car crash on the Drumcondra Road

A garda at the scene of the fatal car crash on the Drumcondra Road

A garda at the scene of the fatal car crash on the Drumcondra Road


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Paula said her father was on his way to an appointment in the Mater Hospital to get eye drops, and left his home in Balbriggan early so he could be ahead of the traffic and get parking, and then relax with a cup of tea and a newspaper.

"He was completely innocent, driving within the speed limit with his seat belt on," she said.

The sisters described their father as a hard worker, a great storyteller, and a man who was very entertaining.

"In his younger days he played for Carnlough Rovers in Cabra and was called up for a trial in Leeds but met our mam, she stole his heart," Teresa said.

"He was never idle and he worked hard.

"He was a real family man who would do anything for anybody.

"He was a very funny man, very witty. He could hold an audience in the pub. When he went for a drink everyone would drink with him and listen to his stories.

"He worked putting up TV aerials and dishes so he would be in and out of houses and hearing stories," she added.

After the crash, the family did not know at first how it had happened. They were then told their dad was on the correct side of the road and the car driven by Ms Coughlan had crossed into his path.

"Then within hours we started hearing bits and pieces locally that she had been drinking and had hit a taxi earlier," said Paula.

"We started piecing it together like a jigsaw, and from witnesses who had seen what happened.

"From day one we felt like we had been robbed of our dad.

"He was in such good health. His doctor said he could have lived well into his 80s. We were robbed of all them years," she added.

Teresa said many of the family had sought counselling for their grief.

"The crash kind of fractured us as a family, and my counsellor said in 98pc of cases she sees, it is like a grenade being dropped on a family, and they blow apart but eventually come back together, because everyone is grieving in their own way. You close yourself off. But we went to the inquest as a family, leaning on each other again."

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