The widow of a motorcyclist who died after he was struck by a van told a court last week that her life and the life of her family has been changed forever after her husband’s death.
Declan Moran (39) of Carrentrilla, Ballina received a six year prison sentence at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Crossmolina man, Martin ‘Morch’ Wynne.
The court heard that motorcyclist Mr Wynne (41) was hit by a van driven by Mr Moran which performed an illegal u-turn on the N26 at Ballinahaglish, Ballina on Sunday, May 8, 2016. Mr Wynne was trapped under the rear drivers axle and dragged for 18 metres before the van came to a stop. He died at the scene.
Mr Moran fled the scene shortly after the collision but when he was later arrested, a subsequent blood test found he was over the drink driving limit and there was traces of cocaine in his blood.
In an emotional victim impact statement, Marcella Wynne, the widow of the victim, described how Mr Moran had not only taken her husband’s life but had taken all of her family’s lives. Mrs Wynne said their three-year-old daughter kept asking why daddy was not coming home and she criticised Mr Moran’s actions on the day.
“[Declan Moran] left him on the side of the road like rubbish and did not try to help him or call for help. The only thing he did was try to get away with it. I will never understand the type of person who would do that,” she said.
Garda Tomasina McHale earlier informed the court that gardaí in Ballina received a 999 call at 3.40pm where it was reported that an accident occurred between a motorcycle and a van. She said Mr Moran had been stopped on the hard shoulder when he performed a u-turn and collided with Mr Wynne’s motorcycle.
When she arrived at the scene, she said it was evident that Mr Wynne was dead and he was pronounced dead at 4.27pm. A witness at the scene identified the driver as Declan Moran, who she said had fled on foot while on his mobile phone.
An extensive search involving gardaí and the air support unit along with the Moy Rescue Unit took place and Mr Moran was eventually located at his father’s home and arrested at 6.15pm. His reply after arrest was, ‘what can I say’.
He was detained and questioned six times and made no comment for the first three interviews, but the following morning he started to answer questions and admitted his involvement in the collision.
Garda McHale said CCTV footage from businesses in Carrentrilla showed Mr Moran on his phone but that mobile was never located. Phone records showed that he made a call at 3.34.03pm ending it at 3.37.26pm and the first 999 call on the day was made by a witness at 3.37.56pm.
The court also heard that Mr Moran had a previous drink driving conviction from 2010 and was disqualified from driving for three years.
Garda McHale agreed with Mr Diarmuid Connolly, counsel for Mr Moran, that he was certified by a doctor as suffering from shock for four hours after the accident.
The deceased, Mr Wynne, was an employee of the Road Safety Authority and was described as ‘a wonderful husband and father’. His death had a huge impact on his family. Marcella Wynne said she will never forget having to identify him in the morgue with the ‘smell of cold blood’ and how she wanted to be dead with him.
She said she did not know the full extent of the impact her late husband had on the lives of others until after the accident and explained how the local community had erected a bench in his honour in Belleek Woods, a place where he used to run.
Mrs Wynne explained that they had waited 16 years before they were blessed with a baby and now he will not be able to accompany their daughter on her first day to school or see her make her communion, walk her down the aisle or see her have children of her own. She said her daughter was constantly asking when Daddy was coming home and she was in therapy to deal with his death.
Mrs Wynne said she is utterly helpless without the support of her husband, saying she lost her business of 15 years because she could not cope with his loss. She said she misses the sound of his car coming home from work, discussing their daughters future together and the feeling of being loved.
Mr Connolly said his client accepted that he was going to serve a custodial sentence and described his decision to leave the scene as ‘cowardly’. A letter from Mr Moran to Mrs Wynne was read out in court where he stated he did not show any courage on the day of the accident and cannot imagine the pain they suffered by what occurred. He added he will have to live with the guilt and shame for what he did that day.
Mr Connolly said the letter of remorse was genuine and Mr Moran was fully prepared to atone for his actions. He said the probation report stated Mr Moran was of a low risk of reoffending and asked Judge Rory McCabe to be as lenient as possible.
In sentencing, Judge McCabe stated that while nobody suggested Mr Moran set out to deliberately injure anyone, he was seriously reckless. He added he had to take into account the concentration of alcohol and traces of cocaine in his blood, his previous conviction for drink driving and said the headline sentence was eight years imprisonment.
Taking into account the mitigating factors of the early plea, his remorse and low risk of reoffending, Judge McCabe sentenced Mr Moran to six years imprisonment with the final year suspended for three years. A ten year driving ban was also imposed. Two further charges relating to the same accident: failing to report an accident and failing to remain at the scene were taken into consideration.
Judge McCabe commented that there were no winners and only losers in instances like this and no words he could say would bring Mr Wynne back. He extended his sympathies to Mrs Wynne and her family.