A motorist has pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene of an accident, following the death of a six-year-old boy three years ago.

Luke O'Donovan was struck by a car that failed to stop outside Ballymacoda village in east Cork on 16 April 2014.

He died in hospital two days later.

Garda Sergeant John Sharkey said the collision happened after the boy had crossed the road to stand on a fence that would have enabled him to see if his friend had arrived home.

He was struck and fatally injured by a Ford Focus driven by Edmond Walsh, 51, of Ballyherode, Ballymacoda, as he crossed the road to return home.

Walsh drove home to ask his elderly father, now deceased, what he should do. When gardaí arrived at the house he admitted he had been involved in a crash.

Walsh pleaded guilty to charges of failing to remain at the scene of an accident and failing to offer assistance to someone injured in the accident.

There had been a pre-trial legal process to establish if the accused would be mentally fit to plead in the case and it was ruled that he was fit to plead.

Walsh was described as having mental challenges as a result of a head injury sustained many years ago.

Luke's mother Josephine O'Donovan said: "The legal process to get to this date has been a long and extremely difficult time for us. To be connected by blood but have no part in it feels simply cruel.

"All we ever wanted was for Mr Walsh to be convicted of the charges against him so that we can be left to get on with our lives.

"Given his mental state we do not think a custodial sentence would help him or us in any way. I personally would think that he may need some mental care… It could be overwhelming for him if he realises what has happened."

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin commended the christianity of Mrs O'Donovan in saying such a thing given the awful grief that she and her husband must be suffering.

He imposed a two-year jail sentence, which he suspended, and banned Walsh from driving for ten years.

James O'Mahony, defence senior counsel, apologised to the O'Donovan's on behalf of Walsh and said he would never drive again irrespective of the disqualification.