Belfast Telegraph

Motorist who caused fatal crash avoids jail

A mother who caused a fatal road accident in a “momentary lapse of judgment” walked free from court yesterday.

Imposing a maximum community service order of 240 hours, Judge Tom Burgess told Deirdre Mary Lavery (40) that no court could restore a human life and that no sentence should be seen as a measure of a person's life.

Mr Burgess said the crash on March 28, 2010, “underlines the importance of paying careful attention” when driving and also “the vulnerability of motorcyclists”.

Earlier he heard that Lavery had just dropped one of her four children off at St Enda's GAA Club on the Hightown Road in Glengormley when the accident occurred.

Prosecution lawyer Ian Tannahill told Belfast Crown Court that Lavery checked both ways, saw the motorbike driven by Zbigniew Ciesielski about 1,000 yards away and believed she had enough time to pull out on to the main road.

Having pulled forward a few feet however, she stopped. But thinking the Vauxhall Zafira was proceeding out, Mr Ciesielski braked heavily to avoid it.

His Honda VTX 1300 fell to the side, throwing him and his wife Helen from it.

While Mr Ciesielski suffered a fractured collar bone and multiple abrasions, tragically his wife Helen sustained a fractured skull which caused bleeding on to her brain.

Shortly after arriving at hospital, the mother-of-two was pronounced dead.

Lavery, from The Brackens in Newtownabbey, pleaded guilty to two charges of causing death and grievous bodily injury by careless driving.

Mr Tannahill said there was “no suggestion... that the motorbike was travelling at anything other than an entirely appropriate speed”.

He added that it was accepted by the prosecution that “the level of culpability was at the lowest end of the scale” and that there are no aggravating features attached to the case.

Speaking as Mr Ciesielski sat in court with an interpreter, defence QC Mark Mulholland revealed that such is the guilt that Lavery feels, she is undergoing therapy and at one time “she had lost the very will to continue with her own life”.

Judge Burgess revealed that in a “poignant letter” written to the court, Mr Ciesielski outlined how he and his wife had come to Northern Ireland to work to send money to Poland for their children’s education.

He described his wife as his “best friend” whose death has shattered his future.

The judge said he was aware Lavery could only start community work once she had finished therapy, adding: “In this snapshot of time, the tragedy has afflicted two families.”

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