A woman who was driving in to fulfil short-notice coverage for a shift at work but who hit and killed an elderly man walking on the M6 near Monksland in March, was fined but not disqualified in the District Court this week (March 2 ) for not being properly insured at the time of the accident.
However, gardaí completely exonerated Sonata Sidariene (25 ), of Dun Esker, Ballinasloe, Co Galway of any blame in the death of the poorly pensioner who had been missing from a Thurles nursing home for a number of days before the accident at around 5.45am on March 6.
Judge Bridget O’Reilly heard how, on the morning in question, the defendant promised attending gardai she would present her documents to Athlone Garda Station within the statutory 10 days, but could only produce a valid driving licence.
Later, her husband Linas Sidaras (26 ), who owned the car and was travelling with her at the time of the accident, admitted to Garda Danny Costello he had allowed his wife to drive “knowing she had no insurance”.
Their solicitor, Mr Padraic Quinn, told the court how Linas had been insured at the time and that Sonata had since become a named driver, and he submitted the paperwork to the judge to corroborate this.
Garda Costello accepted immediately and without any reservation when Mr Quinn said that: “Gardai placed no fault or blame for the accident on my client”.
Mr Quinn explained how Sonata worked in a factory in Athlone and “on the day in question was called in on short notice”.
“In all matters my clients have been upfront with the gardaí?” Mr Quinn put to Garda Costello.
“That is correct, judge,” said Garda Costello.
Mr Quinn went on to explain how Sonata was the main breadwinner as her husband had been without work for the last 18 months, and that the couple were expecting their first child. A letter from her employer was handed into court.
Judge O’Reilly accepted the defence’s position and told Mr Quinn: “I will not disqualify her today, but if it happens again I will have no discretion”, before fining Sonata €500 and giving her three months to pay. She also fined Linas €150.
“He hasn’t been disqualified but he has been warned. Both are lucky to be going home with their driving licences,” said the judge.