A chronic drug addict, who admitted careless driving causing the death of a 14-year-old boy over two years ago, has been sentenced to 20 months in jail and been banned from driving for 20 years.

There were emotional scenes in court as the judge imposed less than the maximum sentence of two years.

Ruadhan Tracey, 32, previously of Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, but currently serving an eight-year prison sentence, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of Conor Hickey at Fassaugh Road in Cabra on 2 December 2011.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the boy was on his way to meet a friend when he was hit by the car Tracey was driving.

Tracey and another man were on their way to buy drugs at the time.

Witnesses said the car "appeared to come from nowhere" and was travelling at speed.

Tracey was tracked down some weeks later by a garda based in Co Meath who knew a silver car was involved in the accident.

After his arrest, he immediately admitted his involvement and said he had taken his eye off the road for one second when he heard a bang.

Tracey said he panicked because he had no licence or insurance and had a history of drug addiction.

He told an ex-girlfriend who owned the car that he could not go to gardaí as no one would believe him.

The 32-year-old told gardaí he did not know at first that it was a person he had hit and he later panicked. 

Tracey found out the following day he had hit a 14-year-old boy who had died. He apologised to the family for not coming forward after the accident.

Son's death like a tsunami - father

In a victim impact statement, the victim's father said his son's death was like a tsunami.

John Hickey said their lives would never be the same again and no day passed without him asking himself why it had happened.

He said no justice would bring Conor back and they were serving a life sentence.

Mr Hickey said: "Life was very different and as close to perfect as you could get.

"The events of 2 December changed all that forever. Conor was hit by a hit-and-run driver and just left there.

"It is impossible to describe the effects a tragedy like this does to a family. It takes everything away in a flash and leaves a trail of destruction. Everything this family has built up is gone.

"To say it is a family's worst nightmare to lose a child, I cannot think of anything else that would devastate a family more."

Mr Hickey said the family had been "destroyed beyond repair".

The victim's sister, Claire, said Conor was not only a brother but a best friend.

She said going to school seeing his friends growing up was heartbreaking.

"Since that day, I have the biggest hole in my heart and nothing or no one could ever replace it," she said.

Tracey offended after hit-and-run

Tracey had more than 40 previous convictions, many for robbery with a syringe. Some of the offences were carried out after the hit-and-run.

His barrister said he was a chronic drug addict, who had admitted deep remorse since the moment he was arrested.

He said notwithstanding his other convictions, the court should consider his early guilty plea.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said she had to consider the early guilty plea.

The maximum sentence available was two years. She also imposed a four-month sentence for leaving the scene of the accident, which has a maximum sentence of six months.

The judge said Tracey had "gone on a rampage" of robberies in the weeks after the hit-and-run. Last July, she sentenced him to eight years in jail for those offences.

She also said he had been the driver of a car that had killed a boy, but had not been man enough to stay at the scene or hand himself in to gardaí.

As sentence was passed, Conor's mother broke down in tears. Others shouted from the back of the court at Tracey as he was led away.

On the day he died, Conor went to the library straight after school to do his homework, which he did on a regular basis.

He returned home to change and went to meet a friend. Minutes after he left, his parents heard an ambulance.

Friends then called to their door to ask what Conor had been wearing. Another friend said it was him.

His mother was driven to Temple Street Hospital, where scans showed no brain activity.

The boy's life-support machine was switched off the following day and his family decided to donate his organs, the court was told.