A young student mother who caused the death of her baby daughter through her careless driving has had her 12-month sentence suspended for two years.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told a distressed 21-year-old Eimer Quinn that despite her “profound sense of grief, guilt and loss” the accident which claimed the life of her daughter, Tiegan Hughes, should not have happened.
Tiegan, who was two years and four months, died in hospital from head injuries as a result of the accident on Drumnakilly Road, off the Carrickmore to Omagh Road, on January 27 last year. She was found at the scene still in her car seat in the back seat of the Renault Clio with a large gash to her forehead.
Omagh Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that Ms Quinn, from Cabhan Alunn in Pomeroy, was on her way to college in Omagh when she was attempting to overtake a car and a hospital bus, unaware there was an unseen dip in the road.
Prosecuting QC Richard Weir said the hidden dip had shielded an oncoming Vauxhall Vectra car travelling in the opposite direction. The collision was due to the inexperience of Ms Quinn, an 'R' driver who was not used to overtaking, and who had excerised bad judgment on this occasion.
Defence QC Elis McDermott said that because of injuries to her legs, hip and shattered pelvis, Ms Quinn was unable to spend the last few days of her daughter's life with her as they were being treated in different hospitals.
However, although initially left in a wheelchair, Ms Quinn recovered to run a marthon to raise money for Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital to thank the staff who had cared for her infant daughter.
While there was no suggestion of excessive speed prior to the fatal overtaking, the judge said “the greatest single factor is that the defendant has to accept that her inattention led to the death of her daughter. Whatever sentence I pass upon her will pale into insignificance when considered in the context of that loss, which will be with her throughout her life”. Judge Millar said he believed a more experienced driver would have identified the inherent risk involved in such an action.