Families of victims of high speed Co. Tipperary crash object to restoration of driving licence 

Clonmel Courthouse

A Killenaule man, who received a 12 year driving ban and prison sentence eight years ago for his reckless racing of a sports car that ended in an horrific fatal crash near Rosegreen, applied at Clonmel Circuit Court's latest session for his driving licence to be restored. 

Stud farm groom Joe O'Leary of Lurgoe, Killenaule applied for the restoration of his licence as next month he will have served two thirds of the 12 year licence disqualification imposed by Clonmel Circuit Court in February, 2010.  

But the court was told the families of the crash victims objected to him regaining the licence. 

Judge Tom Teehan refused to immediately restore O'Leary's licence but directed that it instead by restored in January, 2019

O'Leary received the lengthy driving ban along with a two year prison sentence when he was convicted at the Circuit Court of dangerous driving causing the death of Raymond Cunningham (24) and two counts of dangerous driving causing serious bodily injury to two children, Jack Costello and David McGeer, who were aged 9 and 13 respectively when the crash happened on July 12, 2008. He pleaded guilty to the offences. The prison term was appealed on the grounds of undue leniency  and was increased by 18 months  in 2011. 

Gda. Louise Lordan recounted to the licence restoration application hearing held just before Christmas that O'Leary was driving an Audi A5 car towards Cashel on July 12, 2008 and engaged in a race on the road with Mr Cunningham, who was driving a Audi TT. The accident happened when O'Leary overtook Mr Cunningham while speeding. 

The court heard the two cars collided and the car O'Leary was driving struck the gable end of a house and fell onto young Jack Costello, who was seriously injured.  O'Leary's son, who was a passenger in the Audi 5,  was also injured and his son's friend, David McGeer, who was also a passenger, suffered serious injuries.

Gda. Lordan said Sgt. Corcoran liaised with the families of the victims of this crash and they objected to the restoration of O'Leary's driving licence due to the recklessness of his driving on that day. 

Defence barrister Frank Quirke told the court his client will have served two thirds of the 12 year driving disqualification on February 23, 2018. He pointed out that O'Leary hadn't come to the attention of the gardai since and was working for Paul Shanahan, who was under the umbrella of Coolmore Stud. 

Joe O'Leary went into the witness box and spoke of the deep guilt he felt every day over what happened on July 12, 2008. 

"Anything I said on the day of the trial still stands. Every day I get up, all I have to do is look at my son. Everybody has got a sentence. 

He continued: "I will never forgive myself for it. It's coming up to 10 years next year. I can never get away from it." 

He told the court he served 734 days in prison, did six months community service and did anything the court asked of him.  

O'Leary outlined that Ashtown Stud where he worked was spread over a large area. While he got on well in his job, he was restricted in what he could do because he was unable to drive. His boss had been very patient with him. He also pointed out that his home farm was quite a distance from where he lived and he was dependent on his wife or son all the time to drive him to and from it. 

After considering the application, Judge Teehan said he couldn't go entirely with what was being requested but could go some of the way. 

"I will allow you back driving again earlier than the 12 year period but not on February next provided I have from you an undertaking that you will not drive until there is a valid policy of insurance that can only come about if the relevant insurance company is fully informed of your driving history." 

The Judge warned: "If you are in breach of this undertaking, you will be in breach of a court order." 

After O'Leary agreed to give this undertaking, Judge Teehan said O'Leary's  licence would be restored on January 1, 2019