The mother of a teenage boy who was killed by a careless driver last year has written before sentencing about her forgiveness and understanding for the young man who knocked down her son.
In what was described as an extraordinary show of humanity and magnanimity, a letter was handed into court minutes before the judge passed sentence on 22-year-old Gareth Jones.
Jones, from Mellows Park in Finglas, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of 16-year-old Paul McCormack at Tolka Valley Road in Finglas in June last year.
Defence lawyers told the court there had been emotional scenes outside between the two families and the victim's mother, Valerie Hyland, had shown an extraordinary degree of understanding and forgiveness and has wished Jones the best for the future and said she would include him in her prayers.
The court was told there was "no hostility and genuine understanding".
However, Judge Melanie Greally said that made her task even more difficult because she had come to a conclusion on the appropriate sentence following the sentence hearing last week.
She said despite the letter handed in today, the court had to have "wider considerations".
She imposed a nine-month prison sentence and disqualified Jones from driving for five years.
Judge Greally said Jones had shown a "catastrophic lack of judgment" in his driving by failing to apply his brakes until the last moment.
She said if he had been accompanied by a fully licensed driver, the outcome might have been different.
She said the legal requirement to be accompanied had a purpose and its omission had consequences.
The excessive speed, undeterred by the presence of speed ramps along with a fault in the anti-lock braking system were factors in the incident, she said.
She noted that Jones was not aware of the brake fault.
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Car was speeding at time of crash, court told
At the sentence hearing last week, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the victim was crossing the road with friends that night when a car approached them.
One of his friends described the car as "going flat out" as it travelled over speed ramps.
Three of the friends ran across the road but Mr McCormack turned back and was hit by the car as it swerved to avoid his friends.
His head hit the windscreen and he died later in hospital from a catastrophic brain injury.
Garda crash investigators said the car was travelling at around 70km/h in a 50km/h zone.
When it hit the victim, it was travelling at around 61km/h.
The car also had a fault with its anti-lock braking system, which would have hampered the driver's ability to steer when the brakes were applied suddenly.
The court was told Jones, who was 20 years old at the time, was a provisional licence holder and while he had a friend in the car with him, the friend did not have a full driving licence.
He told gardaí he saw the group of boys crossing the road and went to move around them when one turned back.
Gardaí said he had not applied the brakes until the victim had turned back in the middle of the road.
Judge Greally said his driving was "careless in the extreme" and was at the limits of what was tenable within the offence of careless driving.
She said the maximum sentence for the offence was two years.
Taking into account the many mitigating factors such as his guilty plea, previous good record, supportive family and good work record, she said she would impose a nine-month sentence and disqualify him from driving for five years.
She said the scale of their loss was inexpressible.
Collision left a void 'that can't be filled'
At the sentence hearing last week, a letter from the victim's family read to the court described how he was "intelligent, bubbly and full of life and energy".
It said the incident had "ripped the family apart" and they could not come to terms with him being gone.
"The collision has left a void that can't be filled," it said.
In the letter, the boy's mother said: "Dear Baby Paul, you were a son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend. I remember when you were born at 1am in the hospital, when I was giving you your bottle it was the most peaceful moment ever.
"You grew over the years and brought so much happiness ... that night the accident turned our lives upside down. As time goes by the pain has got worse, every time we look in your room or hear your favourite songs.
"I keep waiting for you to come up the garden path, joking with the neighbours as you always did, looking for you in a crowd of friends. We hope we meet you again our precious baby. you were so talented and had plans to go places."
Jones acknowledged 'enormous grief' he had caused
Defence Counsel Michael Bowman told the court his client was extremely remorseful for and fully acknowledged the "enormous grief" he had caused to the McCormack family.
He said at all times he had fully accepted responsibility and he and his family had written letters of apology to the victim's family.
Mr Bowman said at the time, Jones' car had a full valid NCT and he could not have been aware of the problem with the anti-lock braking system.
He said there was no drink or drugs involved and his client had never been in trouble before.
On the night of the incident, Jones saw the boys crossing and presumed it was safe to move across the road to pass them, when one of them turned back.
He said at no stage did he shirk from his responsibility and had stayed at the scene and rang the emergency services.
He had repeatedly said he was sorry while at the scene and stayed there despite some anger being directed at him from a crowd that had gathered, he said.
He said he was fully cooperative at all times.
His understanding that he had caused the death of someone had caused him some psychological issues and may need counselling in the future, Mr Bowman said.
He said he was a "young man who was part of an enormous tragedy for all concerned".
He said the tragedy could never be repaired by anything he could do.
He said he was in full-time employment and came from an extremely decent family who were fully supportive of him.
The incident had affected his whole family who were very cognisant of the loss suffered by the McCormack family.
A probation report assessed him as being at low risk of reoffending due to a number of factors, such as his work record and his supportive family and an absence of any history of drug or alcohol abuse.