Tuesday, May 09, 2023

David Raleigh

A woman has pleaded guilty to drink-driving and dangerous-driving offences that left an off-duty senior garda with “life changing injuries”.

Niamh McDonnell (30), with an address at Gortskagh, Castlemahon, Co Limerick, pleaded guilty on Monday before Limerick Circuit Court to two charges arising out of a collision in Co Limerick on June 30th, 2022.

Ms McDonnell was initially charged last December with eight offences arising out of the incident, which left Garda Inspector Niall Flood with serious injuries.

The State accepted Ms McDonnell’s pleas to two charges, including one count of drink-driving and one count of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Mr Flood.

Mr Flood, stationed at Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick city, was cycling last June along a stretch of the R522 at Conmore, Dromcollogher, when a car driven by Ms McDonnell struck him.

Mr Flood sustained “life-changing injuries”, prosecution counsel Lilly Buckley BL told Ms McDonnell’s arraignment hearing.

“It’s going to take the State some time to put the medical evidence together, and [Mr Flood’s] treatment is continuing,” Ms Buckley said.

Mr Flood was thrown from his bike in the impact and was treated at the scene by gardaí and paramedics before being airlifted by the Irish Community Air Ambulance to Cork University Hospital where he underwent surgery.

Mr Flood’s wife, Margaret Flood, attended Ms McDonnell’s arraignment hearing before Judge Tom O’Donnell.

The defendant did not speak during the hearing, other than to confirm she was pleading “guilty” to the two charges.

Brian McInerney SC, representing Ms McDonnell, asked that a pre-sentencing report be provided by the probation service.

Judge Tom O’Donnell granted this application and he remanded Ms McDonnell on continuing bail for the case to be mentioned before Limerick Circuit Court again on July 3rd, when a date for sentencing is expected to be scheduled.

Meanwhile, Mícheál Sheridan, the chief executive of air ambulance charity Critical, tweeted last month how he was grateful after the charity received a €20,000 donation from Mr Flood, which had been raised by his wife Margaret Flood and his garda colleagues.

Tweeting a photograph of himself along with Mr Flood and a colleague, Mr Sheridan wrote: “It was a pleasure to meet with @GardaTraffic Inspector Niall Flood today. Niall was involved in an RTC last year whilst out cycling and at that time our helicopter responded to him. Today we received over €20,000 raised in gratitude to our charity.”

Speaking at the time of the collision, Limerick Fine Gael councillor and former joint policing committee member, Liam Galvin, described Mr Flood as an “excellent garda”.

“It’s just heartbreaking because Niall is an absolute gentleman and has always had the community at heart, he is one of the good guys, and our thoughts are with him and his wife,” Cllr Galvin said.

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