Southern Star Ltd. logo

'I thought that Ballingeary was the safest place in the world'

February 20th, 2024 11:55 AM

'I thought that Ballingeary was the safest place in the world' Image
Michael Lucey (42), pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Gobnait Twomey, above.

Share this article


A BALLINGEARY man who had attended his father’s funeral, and later got into a car after drinking, then knocked down and killed a local woman who had travelled home for the requiem mass of her uncle, a court has heard.

Gobnait Twomey from Ballingeary graduated as a physiotherapist just months before her death on December 13th 2022.

The barrister representing Michael Lucey (42) of Derryvaleen, Ballingeary, said that Lucey would live with the guilt of being responsible for her death for the rest of his life.

Elizabeth O’Connell, SC, representing Lucey, told Judge Colin Daly: ‘There are other prisons other than those made of stone.’

Cork Circuit Criminal Court this week heard that the accident occurred at 1.10am in Ballingeary village. Garda Deirdre O’Mahony said that Mr Lucey had attended the funeral of his father whilst Gobnait, also from Ballingeary, had travelled from Dublin for the funeral of her uncle who had died suddenly.

After the funeral Mr Lucey opted to drive the car of a relative whom, it was felt, had too much to drink. He drove down Main Street in Ballingeary where the road narrowed on the bend and lighting was of poor quality. Gobnait Twomey, her sister and her mother, were on the street, exchanging condolences with a brother of the defendant and another man.

The Hyundai car collided with Gobnait, who was pronounced dead at the scene. A number of others were injured. Garda O’Mahony said Mr Lucey was distressed when he realised he had killed Gobnait. He had 179mgs of alcohol per 100mls of urine in his system. Dashcam footage revealed he had been driving at an average speed of 27.3km/h.

Ms O’Connell said the mourners on the street were all dressed in black, and her client was hugely remorseful.

Gobnait’s partner Frenchman Jay Ammari, in a victim impact statement, said he was at their home in Dublin at 5am on December 13th, having attended his Christmas party, when he was awoken by two gardai who informed him Gobnait had died. ‘It was like being stabbed. It was a shock. I thought that Ballingeary was the safest place in the world.’

‘I lost my best friend. We were together 11 years,’ he said.

Gobnait’s brother Sean said his sister had the ‘travel bug’ and made friends all over the world. Gobnait was ‘generous to a fault’, and wherever she was, craic followed. Padraig Horgan, who suffered back injuries in the crash, said he would never forget seeing Eiblis Twomey kneeling over the body of her daughter. ‘It will haunt me every day.’

Michael Lucey pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and also pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, and to a second charge of dangerous driving.

Sentencing Mr Lucey on Wednesday, Judge Colin Daly said he was taking the plea and the lack of convictions of Mr Lucey into consideration.

He jailed him for three years, suspending the last 18 months. He also banned him from driving for five years.

Tags used in this article

Share this article