Belfast Telegraph

Nicola Kenny's family angry at drink-driving conviction for asleep-at-wheel killer trucker

Nicola Kenny, who was killed when Ciaran's McBride’s lorry ran into the back of her car
Nicola Kenny, who was killed when Ciaran's McBride’s lorry ran into the back of her car

By Conor Feehan

The family of a young woman killed in the Republic by a Co Armagh truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel has reacted with shock after he was convicted of drink-driving while banned.

Nicola Kenny (26) was being driven to Dublin with her mother Ann by her aunt Irene on September 5, 2016.

Nicola had given birth in South Tipperary General Hospital to baby Lily Rose the day before, but the child was transferred to Temple Street Hospital in Dublin for specialist care.

While on the M8 motorway to Temple Street, at Dogstown, New Inn, Nicola received a phone call and Irene pulled in to the hard shoulder so she could take the call. It was a staff member from Temple Street Hospital telling her that Lily Rose was fine and there was no need to travel to Dublin.

Moments after the phone call a lorry driven by Ciaran McBride veered off the motorway and crashed into the back of the vehicle.

Nicola was in the back seat and bore the brunt of the impact. She died at the scene. Ann and Irene were injured.

Lily Rose is now being brought up by Ann and her husband Paddy.

McBride, of Listrakelt Road, Derrynoose, pleaded guilty to careless driving at the Circuit Criminal Court last year. As well as a five-year driving ban, he was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay €10,000 in compensation to Ms Kenny's parents.

But McBride has since been caught drink-driving, leading to a furious reaction from Nicola's mother Ann.

McBride this week pleaded guilty at Armagh Magistrates Court to driving while disqualified, using a vehicle without insurance and driving with excess alcohol. The offences occurred on Derrynoose Road in Keady on February 11.

The 33-year-old's solicitor told the court McBride's "mental health deteriorated" following the incident and that he had become "dependent on alcohol".

"I am livid, we are devastated and very upset. He could have killed someone else," Ann Kenny said.

"We had a choice in deciding if McGrath would be charged with the more serious offence of dangerous driving but we didn't want two lives being destroyed and gave him the benefit of the doubt, so we went with the choice of careless driving instead.

"Now I wish we hadn't made that choice. There's obviously no remorse there from him. I wasn't angry before this but I'm angry now.

"And as for the €10,000 compensation, we haven't seen a cent of it. We were going to donate it to a children's hospital anyway, but it never came. I'll be demanding it now.

"McBride is claiming his mental health since the crash is to blame for him drink-driving. Well, all our mental health is affected. We are all depressed. We all have PTSD. But we're getting on with it, we're raising Nicola's baby. This is a kick in the teeth. It is horrendous."

Upon reading the pre-sentence report this week, District Judge Brian Archer stated: "This man was involved in a very serious road traffic incident in the Republic of Ireland that resulted in a fatality. Three years later he is drink-driving with a reading of 87mg of alcohol in breath."

He told McBride: "I could very well have sent you to prison for driving while disqualified given your record."

McBride was sentenced to a combination order consisting of 75 hours of community service and two years on probation, as well as a 30-month driving disqualification.

"If you commit any further motoring offences you will be going to prison," Judge Archer warned him.

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