Court hears of tragic death of child

A disqualified, uninsured driver has been jailed for four months after the van he was driving collided with another vehicle, resulting in the death of a four-year-old boy.

Judge Elizabeth McGrath accepted that the circumstances of the accident were tragic and that the driver was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since it happened in December last year.

However, she said that she “could not leave over” the fact that 37-year-old Arnoldas Valinskas of 4 Belgard Green, Tallaght had been disqualified at the time and had not been driving for any emergency reason when four-year-old Peter Hennessy lost his life.

Valinskas been going fishing at Lough Derravaragh when his Ford Transit van crashed into the Hennessy family’s jack-knifed jeep and trailer on the N4.

Following DPP directions, the Lithuanian, who has been in Ireland for either years was not charged in relation to the boy’s death or for any offence relating to his driving.

But he pleaded guilty to having no licence, no insurance, and to driving the van without the owner’s permission.

Little Peter Hennessy of Millcastle, Oldcastle had been going with his dad, also named Peter, to sell cattle at Moyvalley when, according to a garda report, one of the cattle moved in the Ifor Williams trailer their Land Cruiser was towing.

The jeep and trailer wobbled and overturned, landing at an awkward angle, partly on the slow lane.

Less than five minutes later Valinskas crashed into the Hennessys and their jeep, seriously injuring young Peter.

Prosecuting Garda Michael Daniels described the accident as ‘horrific and very tragic’.

When he arrived at the scene an off-duty nurse and doctor were trying to save the boy’s life, but the garda said he died shortly afterwards.

He said Valinskas was distraught at the scene but cooperative.

Garda Daniels said there’d been ‘a substantial investigation’ into what happened.

Ms Alison Hough, counsel for Valinskas, said he’d been suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder since the accident and has flashbacks.

She referred to a Garda forensic report which indicated he had not been at fault for the accident which came about as a result of ‘extraordinary circumstances.’

Judge McGrath said she had given serious thought to the case but had no choice but to impose a custodial sentence, despite knowing that he would have to live with the consequences of the accident for the rest of his life.

She declined an offer of compensation from Valinskas, who is now unemployed because of psychological trauma arising from the accident, saying that for the family’s sake she did not want to put a value on their child’s life.

The judge offered her sympathies to devastated members of the Hennessy family who were in court.

Valinskas is appealing the sentence.


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