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HURT Family of tragic Aoife Doyle (14) call for drug testing for those involved in car accidents

Aoife Doyle was knocked down and killed by Eric Dunne who was texting at the time of the fatal collision

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Aoife Doyle

Aoife Doyle

Aoife Doyle

Loved ones of a 14-year-old girl killed by a driver - who was texting at the time of the fatal collision - have called for mandatory drug testing for all those involved in car accidents.

Aoife Doyle was knocked down and killed while walking on the road between Clara and Ballycumber in Offaly with her best friend Cara Cronly on the evening of March 20, 2020.

Eric Dunne (26), of Bellair, Ballycumber, a learner driver at the time, subsequently pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death at Erry, Clara and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, with the final 18 months suspended.

Dunne was also disqualified from driving for 10 years after the court heard he had been texting from his mobile phone when his Hyundai Santa Fe struck the girl head-on.

It emerged at Aoife's inquest in Tullamore on Friday that Dunne had not been tested for drugs at the scene, although he had been tested for alcohol and returned a negative result.

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Eric Dunne who was texting while driving

Eric Dunne who was texting while driving

Eric Dunne who was texting while driving

 

Speaking with the Sunday World, Sinead Cronly, Cara Cronly's mother, said the failure by gardai at the scene to test Dunne for drugs 'really hurt us.'

She said it had emerged during Dunne's prosecution that he was a user of cannabis.

"Obviously, when we heard the gardai hadn't tested him for drugs that really hurt both our families," she said.

"And it's something that needs to be legislated for and something that we are going to fight for.

"As Aoife's uncle said at the inquest, what more do gardai need, besides the death of a little girl, to carry out a drug test?"

At Friday's inquest, Darragh Scully, uncle of Aoife Doyle, said it had been stated at the court hearing that Mr Dunne was addicted to cannabis.

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Sergeant Simon Murphy said while the gardai are obliged to test for the presence of alcohol, there is no such requirement for drugs and there was no evidence to suggest Mr Dunne had drugs in his system.

"I'd like to know what evidence you need above the death of a child to take a drug test from someone," said Mr Scully. "It's something that's very hurtful to the family."

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Cara and Aoife

Cara and Aoife

Cara and Aoife

 

Sinead Cronly, mother of Cara, told the inquest Aoife was a huge part of the Cronly family and their concern was why the question of Mr Dunne's speed had not been pursued.

Ms Cronly said she believed he was driving at more than the permitted speed on the road, 60kph, and they had seen him in a different vehicle a month later driving around Clara unaccompanied with no L plates displayed.

"I saw him and a lot of my friends and family saw him. And he didn't care, he had no respect," she said. "How dare he do that after killing our little girl."

In an emotional statement to the coroner, Ms Cronly added: "We're so heartbroken, my family, the Scully family and the Doyle family."

"Her parents are so heartbroken they cannot be here, they cannot face to come in here. My daughter has to live the rest of her life without her best friend and it's all his fault."

The inquest heard Aoife Doyle was thrown into a drain by the impact and despite the efforts of people who came on the scene, including a nurse Ethna Kenny and her husband Michael Corcoran, she did not respond to CPR and was pronounced dead.

Sergeant Murphy said Mr Dunne, who was at the scene when gardai arrived, admitted when interviewed later he knew he had hit something and said he drove on for about a minute and then turned around and went back, where he saw two shoes on the road.

While he could recall the time leading up to the collision and the time after it, he stated he could not remember the actual collision itself. An alcohol breath test carried out at the scene was negative.

There was damage to the front of his vehicle and some debris on the road.

A forensic investigator, Garda John Cregan, said an examination of Mr Dunne's mobile phone indicated he was texting at the time of the impact because there was a 60-second gap between his last message and his attempt to make an emergency call.

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