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Hogan's caution 'a joke' - widow of man killed by dangerous driver


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June Fitzgerald, widow of crash victim Christopher, holding family photos with her daughter June

June Fitzgerald, widow of crash victim Christopher, holding family photos with her daughter June

June Fitzgerald, widow of crash victim Christopher, holding family photos with her daughter June

A GRIEVING widow whose husband was killed in a head-on car crash two years ago is urging drivers to put down their mobile phones while driving.

Father-of-two Christopher Fitzgerald (53) was killed instantly when a car driven by Michael Dunne (67), from Mountmellick, Co Laois, veered into his path on the Monasterevin to Portlaoise Road on August 17, 2018.

Mr Dunne subsequently pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

Anger

During a hearing at the Circuit Court in Naas, Judge Patrick Quinn heard evidence that analysis of Mr Dunne's phone had shown he had two conversations on it in the minutes before the crash, but there was no evidence he was on it at the time of the accident.

However, two years after her life was turned upside down, Mr Fitzgerald's widow, June, said she still believes Mr Dunne's phone conversations before the crash may have led to her husband's death, as there was no other explanation for what caused him to cross the white line.

After hearing that Phil Hogan was cautioned by gardaí after he was stopped for using his phone while driving to the now infamous Golfgate dinner, she said her anger over drivers who continue to use their phones at the wheel has come flooding back.

She told the Herald she learned of Mr Hogan being stopped by gardaí on the second anniversary of her husband's death.

"It's just a joke," she said of the caution.

Despite the increase in people on roads now as pandemic restrictions ease, Ms Fitzgerald said it beggars belief that people are still using their mobile phones while driving.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't see a driver on the phone," she said.

Justice

Her pain in losing her husband of 32 years was exacerbated this week when a spokesperson for Mr Hogan admitted he was cautioned for the offence, but not formally charged.

"There's no justice," she said. "It seems there's a different law for them (politicians) and another one for us."

In a victim impact statement, Ms Fitzgerald told the court how she had waited for her husband to return home, only to be told by gardaí he had been killed.

"I've lost my best friend and soulmate," she said.

Herald