South East student appeals jail term for hit and run
A Wexford commerce student has appealed her one-year sentence for careless driving causing serious bodily harm to a woman walking her dogs on a country road two years ago.
The Gorey pedestrian was thrown over a ditch at Millands, Gorey and was left lying seriously injured for an hour before being discovered.
Pamela Levingston had been walking her dogs shortly before 7.30am on May 28, 2018, when she saw a car approach. She moved in as much as she could, but was struck by the car being driven by Chloe Bates, who did not stop.
Ms Levingston sustained serious and multiple injuries, including rib fractures, and required emergency surgery.
Bates (21) of Summerfield, Ballycale, also in Gorey, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for the careless driving charge at Wexford Circuit Court last month.
Judge Cormac Quinn also gave her a concurrent four-month sentence for failing to stop at the scene of the accident.
She appealed the severity of that sentence to the Court of Appeal today (Friday).
Her barrister, Colman Cody SC, submitted that the sentencing judge had made an error in principle in not suspending any or all of the sentence.
He also argued that disproportionate weight had been given to her failure to remain at the scene.
Counsel explained that she had thought she had hit a wall or post, had reversed but not seen anyone or anything, and had then proceeded home.
When she later heard that a person had been injured, she presented voluntarily at Gorey Garda Station, he said.
“This offsets to some extent what might be described as the aggravating factor of failing to remain at the scene,” he submitted.
Mr Cody further argued that insufficient weight had been given to the mitigating factors, which he said were all ‘rolled up’ into one.
“He could have dealt with this other than with a custodial sentence,” he submitted.
Sinead Gleeson BL responded on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
She said that the judge was correct to impose the sentence he did, and that it was not an error in principle.
“The judge did not err in placing the matter at the upper end of the scale,” she said.
Ms Gleeson noted that all of the mitigating documentation had been referred to by the court and that ‘this particular judge’ was ‘very rarely appealed’ for severity of sentence.
“A custodial sentence was not disproportionate,” she said.
Court President Justice George Birmingham, presiding with Justice John Edwards and Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh, will deliver judgment next week.