LOSING her brother at 15 messed up a Rosscarbery woman’s life ‘beyond repair’, a court was told.
The court was hearing the impact of the death of cyclist Stefan Cooper (18) on his family, after Stefan was fatally injured by a motorist who pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol on March 8th 2016.
Sean Collins, 70, of The Bungalow, Threegneeves, Leap, pleaded guilty to charges of driving without due care and attention, causing the death of Stefan Cooper at Barley Hill, Roscarberry.
Collins also pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol – 140 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood, when the limit was 50 mgs. He had a previous drink driving conviction from 2006.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a one-year suspended jail term on the careless driving causing death, a €500 fine on the drink driving, and a disqualification from driving for five years.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: ‘The boy on the bike had neither lighting nor visibility jacket. He was wearing dark clothing. Attention was brought to him being on the road by other road users. The others saw him (the cyclist) but avoided him. This man (the defendant) obviously was not keeping a proper lookout. That, to me, is the kernel of the case.’
The judge noted from victim impact statements that no sentence on the defendant would ease the suffering of the Cooper family.
Garda Mark Curtis said one motorist who passed Stefan before the accident saw that he was about 1m out from the hard shoulder and he turned his car to go back to offer him a lift home. However, the fatal accident occurred before this motorist made it back.
Stefan’s father, Christy, said: ‘I had to identify the victim of a road traffic accident on Barley Hill as my 18-year-old son, Stefan. Once I had done this I knew that before long this information would be on social media and Stefan’s two sisters were at home on their own. I had to make the most difficult decision of my life – whether to stay with Stefan and risk my girls finding out about his death from someone else or to get home before this happened. Eventually I had to leave my son on the side of a wet road in the company of strangers to protect my daughters.’
Stefan was studying horticulture in Bantry and his family recalled that he was never happier than when he was working away in his polytunnel.
His sister Michaela described the impact on her. ‘I honestly never realised how cosy our house was – full of joy and comfort – until he died. Now it just feels empty, lonely and big.’ His sister, Emelia, said: ‘Losing my brother at 15 messed up my life beyond repair. I’ve lost the only brother I had. It is unforgivable he is gone. He is gone because someone couldn’t follow the rules and it is beyond unforgivable that he has ruined our family.’