Banned Armagh truck driver who caused death of Dublin dad jailed for 10 months
A disqualified truck driver from Northern Ireland who crossed onto the wrong side of a road in the Republic, causing the death of a motorcyclist, has been jailed for 10 months.
The victim, Slawomir Korytowski, was travelling with a group of four other motorcyclists to catch a ferry to Scotland when he swerved to avoid colliding with Patrick McArdle's truck at the quays in Dublin in July 2015.
Korytowski, a married father-of-two, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Patrick McArdle (48), of Forest Park, Dromintree, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing the death of Mr Korytowski at North Wall Quay in Dublin on July 3, 2015.
The court heard McArdle pulled out of a loading bay shortly after 7.20am and crossed briefly on to the wrong side of the road.
Judge Martin Nolan said that the deceased man probably panicked when he saw the oncoming lorry and applied the brakes forcefully. The victim was thrown from the bike and fell under the wheel of another lorry.
A year before the crash McArdle, with six previous convictions, had been disqualified from driving for six years for drink-driving.
He was disqualified for a further 10 years last year for more driving-related offences. That matter is under appeal, the court heard.
Sentencing McArdle, Judge Martin Nolan said this was a tragic accident, but that there was no element of speed or recklessness in McArdle's driving. He said there was a misjudgment and that all of us were capable of misjudgments.
But, he added, the fact that McArdle should not have been lawfully driving was a severely aggravating factor. He said but for this he could have considered a non-custodial sentence.
Noting that the maximum custodial penalty available to the court was two years, Judge Nolan jailed McArdle for 10 months. He also banned McArdle from driving for six years.
Judge Nolan said he was aware that McArdle was remorseful and was in many ways a very good man who had worked all his life.
He also noted McArdle's history of alcohol problems.
Detective Sergeant Karl Murray told the court that Mr Korytowski was travelling to Scotland for a motorbike holiday.
McArdle, a mechanic by trade who also worked as a casual truck driver, was waiting in a loading bay at North Wall Quay, Dublin for a colleague to arrive.
When the colleague arrived in his truck, he flashed at McArdle who then pulled out of his loading bay to follow his colleague but ended up driving alongside his truck in the oncoming lane.
McArdle was driving on the wrong side of the road for up to ten seconds, during which time he met the motorcyclists. Speed was not an issue for either party, the court heard.
McArdle was taken to Dublin's Mater Hospital and treated for shock. In an interview with gardai, he mistakenly believed that there was an element of speed on the part of Mr Korytowski and that he had been driving on the right side of the road.
When shown CCTV footage of the event, McArdle was "taken aback" by what he saw, the court heard. He told gardai: "My heartfelt sorrow goes out to the man's wife and children. I did not intend for this to happen."
A victim impact statement from Mr Korytowski's wife was handed in to court, but not read out. It was described as "heart-rending". The court heard that since her husband's death, she and their two children have moved back to Poland for family support.
Defence barrister Tony McGillicuddy handed up a handwritten letter of apology from his client who he said was "haunted" by the events of that day.
"He recognises the enormity of the consequences which has befallen the family of the deceased man," Mr McGillicuddy said.
The court heard McArdle, a separated father-of-five, has not worked since the incident and is on disability benefit.
He said McArdle had a lengthy work history and had driven trucks in Saudi Arabia and Scandinavia.
"He prided himself as someone who had never touched another vehicle in his work life," Mr McGillicuddy said.