Judge: Hit and run driver disgraceful

A motorist’s decision to drive away after a collision with a child leaving the boy slumped in the middle of the road was described as disgraceful by the judge who jailed him yesterday.

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Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a three-year jail term with the last 18 months suspended in the case against the motorist, John Coffey, of no fixed address.

Inspector Vincent O’Sullivan said a media appeal through the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo gave them the breakthrough in the case.

Judge Ó Donnabháin praised the diligence of the Garda investigation and the use of the media appeal in bringing about a prosecution. A taxi driver in the area at the time came forward with information in response to the media appeal and this ultimately led to the car being traced.

Sinead Behan, defending, said the child ran out on to the road between two parked cars. The judge said that was not relevant as the accused was not charged with careless driving. He said Coffey, originally from Castleisland, Co Kerry, was convicted by a jury for his actions after his car collided with the child.

Pardelian Harna, aged 11, was struck on Thomas Davis St, Cork, at 9.30pm on August 6, 2014. He was left slumped in the middle of the road as Coffey slowed down and then drove off.

Coffey, aged 30, was convicted by a jury of hit and run at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Inspector Vincent O’Sullivan said that if Coffey had stopped and looked after the child, he would not have been before any court for any offence.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said he did not accept that the accused had just panicked and fled.

“The circumstances left the jury in no doubt but that the accused was the driver and knew full well that an incident occurred where a child was collided with, cast into the air and left on the side of the road,” he said.

“It was a disgraceful thing to do and I did not see any remorse. This man did everything he could to avoid apprehension.”

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