THE family of a woman who died days after being injured in a road traffic collision, involving a car driven by an 85-year-old, want an examination of the rules governing the ability of elderly people to drive.
The family of Carmel Daly (74), who died six days after being injured in a two-car collision, told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that they had no wish to see elderly farmer John Sexton jailed. But they said it highlighted the need for vigilance in relation to older drivers.
Sexton of Sunview, Courtmacsherry, Bandon, pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of dangerous driving causing serious harm to Ms Daly at Tulligee, Clonakilty on February 9th.
Ms Daly’s daughter, Imelda Hurley, said the case highlighted the need for strengthening rules governing elderly people driving and the need for families to take responsibility for elderly relatives to ensure they do not drive if they are not capable.
‘We understand that this offence can carry a jail term but we have no interest in seeing John Sexton going to jail as he never set out to cause the accident and it certainly will not bring Mam back to us,’ Ms Hurley said in a Victim Impact Statement.
‘However, we would strongly urge that the rules and regulations regarding senior drivers should be looked at very closely and they should be strengthened to ensure that all aspects of a person’s driving ability are tested including judgement and reactions before renewal of licences are made.
‘We would also urge that all families should take responsibility and step in when their elderly family members are failing and make an effort to maintain the freedom and mobility of their elder family members when they are no longer able to drive.
‘Our parents drove us everywhere when we were unable to do so. There comes a time when it’s our turn to do the same for them and to keep them and everybody else safe on the roads,’ said Ms Hurley, on behalf of the Daly family.
Garda Brendan Cahill told the court that Carmel Daly was a front seat passenger in a Hyundai car being driven by her daughter Loretto Daly O’Regan from Rosscarbery towards Clonakilty, when the defendant emerged from a side road in his Isuzu jeep.
Ms Daly O’Regan saw his jeep come over the white line at the Stop sign and she presumed he was going to stop, but he kept coming on to the main road and drove directly into the path of her car, making it impossible for her to avoid a collision and her mother suffered a fracture to her femur.
Ms Daly died six days later in CUH and prosecution barrister Siobhan Lankford BL said that the accident would have been ‘a trigger for a cascade of events’ but that the injuries sustained in the accident were not fatal.
Sexton apologised for his error of judgement and said he was deeply remorseful for what had happened. He has not driven since.
His daughter Rosemary apologised to the Daly family and expressed their condolences over the death of Carmel Daly.
Defence barrister, Shay Roche BL, pointed out that Sexton had no previous convictions of any kind and he pointed out that there were no aggravating factors such as speed or alcohol or use of a mobile phone. He urged Judge Gerard O’Brien to be as lenient as possible.
Judge O’Brien noted the family of the late Ms Daly did not want to see Sexton jailed and he also noted that the defendant had pleaded guilty, co-operated fully with gardai and had previously been of blameless character, with no conviction of any sort.
‘I see nothing to be gained for society or for the Daly family by putting Mr Sexton in prison,’ said Judge O’Brien as he fined Mr Sexton €3,000 and disqualified him from driving for ten years before extending his sympathies to the Daly family on the loss of their mother.