A drunk driver who received community service when he killed a pedestrian and injured two gardaí in a collision has been jailed for two years by the Court of Appeal.
Adrian Nestor (40), from Keamsella in Kilcolgan was originally ordered to serve 240 hours community service, fined €1,000, and banned from driving for four years by Judge Rory McCabe at Galway Circuit Court.
The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed that sentence as being “unduly lenient” and the Court of Appeal agreed this week, overturning Nestor’s original sentence.
In the early hours of the morning on February 1, 2016 Nestor hit 66 year old Liam McDonnell, Garda Sharon Casserly, and Garda Peter Murtagh with his car near Adrahan.
Nestor, who’d been drinking at two pubs and a wake all evening, was five times over the legal limit at the time of the accident.
Mr. McDonnell (66) had gone missing from a nursing home the night before the accident. He was found by the two officers who were trying to get him into their patrol car when Nestor struck the stationary vehicle.
Mr. McDonnell was killed in the accident, while Garda Casserly suffered injuries that have been described as life-changing, and Garda Murtagh’s leg was broken.
Nestor pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death before the Circuit Court, and Judge McCabe said that jailing him would not serve the interests of justice.
Mr. McDonnell’s ex-wife told the court in a victim impact statement that jailing Nestor would not bring him back from the dead.
The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the sentence on the grounds that it didn’t meet the standard of deterrence needed, to show that this kind of behaviour is not tolerated.
The Irish Examiner reports that Counsel for the DPP, Mr. Eoghan Cole, said that Nestor made a conscious decision to drink from 7:30pm to midnight before getting behind the wheel.
Mr. Cole submitted to the court that given the Circuit Court itself said this fell at the more serious end of the spectrum, a sentence of up to nine years could be considered.
Mr. Justice Patrick McCarthy of the Court of Appeal took into mitigation Nestor’s early guilty plea, his good character other than this, and the fact that he stayed at the scene to assist, a shorter sentence was appropriate.
Consequently, Mr. Justice McCarthy, sitting with the President of the Court of Appeals Mr. Justice George Birmingham and Mr. Justice John Hedigan resentenced Nestor to four years, with the final two suspended.