Teen jailed for dangerous driving causing death of his friend

ireland
The scene of the fatal crash at Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork.
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Olivia Kelleher

A teenage boy who was driving a car at a minimum speed of 119 km an hour in a 50 km zone when he crashed in Cork city causing the death of a 16-year-old girl and permanent injury to a 17-year-old male, has been jailed for four years.

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that it was in the interest of the public that 17-year-old Daniel Wyse of Killiney Heights in Knocknaheeny in the city be named as he is subject to a 15-year driving disqualification.

He said by lifting the reporting restriction the public would be aware of the driving ban and able to report Wyse to the gardai if he got behind the wheel of a car.

Victim

Mr Wyse appeared before the court in relation to the death of 16-year-old transition year student Kimberly O’Connor whose life was cut prematurely short in a car crash on Harbour View Road in Knocknaheeny in February 2020.

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Judge O’Donnabhain also lifted the restrictions under the Children’s Act in terms of naming the young victim.

He said that it would be “unjust and unrealistic” that she not be identified. He noted that her mother was happy to have her daughter named in media reports.

Det Garda Brian Holland said the crash in Cork city occurred shortly before 11pm on February 19th, 2020 when Daniel Wyse was driving at high speed in a car he had bought on Done Deal.

He overtook a taxi on Harbour View Road and crashed in to a bollard and a wall. Ms O’Connor and another teenage boy were passengers in the vehicle.

Bollard

The court heard that the car hit a kerb, a tree and a utility box before then colliding with a metal bollard which ended up 45 metres away, while the cap on the bollard was catapulted through the upstairs window of a house.

The rear passenger door hit a concrete wall and the car spun around with the front passenger’s door colliding with a gate pillar, killing Kimberly who was less than 50 metres from her home at the time.

Det Garda Holland said that the victims had to be cut from the car.

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The now 18-year-old male passenger initially lost the use of his limbs. He can now walk but needs ongoing physical and psychological support. He suffers from post traumatic amnesia and has no memory of the accident.

Det Garda Holland said that the driver fled the scene. A full garda investigation was carried out. It was determined that the car was travelling at least 120km an hour at the time of crash. The road had a speed limit of just 50km.

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Mr Wyse had bought the car on DoneDeal three days before the crash but after the fatal collision, he changed the information on the ad.

Det Garda Holland said that the dead young woman was "in the prime of her life" at the time of the crash and and that the driver had shown a "complete disregard" for the two passengers in the car.

Defence barrister Tom Creed, SC, said that his client had entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity.

Custodial sentence

He acknowledged that a custodial sentence was a given but appealed for leniency given the genuine remorse of Wyse and his lack of previous convictions. He said that Daniel didn’t mix with a bad crowd and was previously of good character.

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Mr Wyse, who appeared by video link from Oberstown, told the court that he would forever regret his actions on the night which led to the loss of his “beautiful friend” Kimberly. He apologised to the family of the deceased and said that his friend would be “in his thoughts forever.”

His mother Margaret O’Sullivan said that her son was genuinely remorseful for his actions. She offered her condolences to the family of the deceased.

Jennifer Haynes, the mother of the deceased, said in her victim impact statement that she heard the noise of the collision. She tried to call her daughter's phone, but it rang out.

Phone call

“I was waiting for my daughter to come home, and I jumped with horror from the bang outside my door – with severe fright, we ran to the front door to discover the fatal car crash,” she said.

“I rang my daughter’s phone to see where she was – her phone at this stage was ringing out – little did I realise at that point that my child lying dead in the car that had crashed in front of our house.

“When we found out it was my child dead in the car, my whole world came crashing in on top of me – from that point on I wanted to die – I will never be able to come to terms with my child’s death.

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Ms Haynes described the incident as "every mother's worst nightmare."

"Kimberly was a bright, bubbly happy girl with an infectious smile. She didn't deserve to die like that.

All her teachers sang her praises. She loved life and lived a great life in her 16 years.”

Charity work

Ms Haynes said her kind-hearted daughter had been chosen by her school to go to Calcutta in India in order to undertake charity work. Kimberly went on the trip just four weeks before her death and had planned to return when she was 18.

A gifted singer Kimberly played lead roles in dramatic performances at her school. Her mother said she was destined for great things.

“I told her ‘when you were born a star was born.’ She had big dreams. She had a beautiful singing voice.”

Mr Wyse pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of a Ms O’Connor in the car and causing serious bodily harm to another male passenger. He also pleaded guilty to failing to stop, driving without a licence and insurance and failing to give gardaí appropriate information.

In sentencing Judge O’Donnabhain said that he had to take in to account that Mr Wyse fled the scene and did not present to gardaí for weeks if not months.

Judge O'Donnabhain described the crash as being "appalling" and said that it was like a bomb had gone off under the car.

He added that Kimberly’s promising life was “cut off against a pilllar in Knocknaheeny” because of high speed by a driver who was underage and without a licence.

He imposed a sentence of eight years with four years suspended having taken the guilty plea and lack of previous convictions in to account.

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