An horrific hit and run incident in which an elderly pensioner lost his leg was recalled at Limerick Circuit Court on Thursday when a “full-time criminal” was jailed for eight years arising from the incident.
Michael Sheehan (27) of Cliona Park, Moyross, Limerick was granted bail – despite Garda objections – just three days before he ploughed into three pensioners outside Parteen pitch and putt course on September 25, 2014.
A former inter county hurler for Limerick, Mr Eric Ryan (80) suffered catastrophic injuries after he was pinned to the ground by Sheehan’s car, and had to have his left leg amputated from below the knee as a result of the ordeal.
His friend Liam Barry (78), a retired garda, also suffered a number of injuries including a brain haemorrhage and damage to his kidney and liver but has since made a full recovery.
Their friend the late Dermot O’Brien who was also in his seventies but now deceased, suffered minor injuries.
The court heard how the three retired pensioners were extremely active and enjoyed a game of pitch and putt at least once a week.
Jailing Sheehan at Limerick Circuit Court on Thursday Judge Tom O’Donnell said he had to take into account the “deeply harrowing” victim impact statement from Eric Ryan and the catastrophic injuries he suffered.
In his victim impact statement, Mr Ryan, who also suffered a crushed pelvis and right shoulder injury, described how he has gone from being a 100 per cent independent man and a carer for his wife to a “completely dependent person, who can barely manage the simple every day things in life”.
Michael Sheehan, who has more than 50 previous convictions, admitted he drank eight bottles of cider and a naggin of vodka in the hours before he crashed into the pensioners.
The 27-year-old was being pursued by Gardai at the time of the collision in connection with a series of house burglaries in nearby Clonlara.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge O’Donnell noted how Sheehan had ‘jumped’ over Mr Ryan’s body as he fled the scene on foot, after the pensioner was pinned to the ground by his Hyundai Accent car.
Judge O’Donnell jailed Sheehan for five years for dangerous driving causing serious injury to Eric Ryan and Liam Barry at Parteen on September 25, 2014.
Sheehan also pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary at Aherina, Kilmore and Doonass and to refusing to provide a sample of blood or urine, all on the same date, for which he received a 12 month concurrent sentence.
Judge O’Donnell ordered that the five year jail sentence be served consecutive to a three year prison term, which he imposed on Sheehan for a burlgarly charge at Aherina, Kilmore on May 8, 2014.
The 27 year-old also pleaded guilty to being a passenger in a stolen tractor on the same date.
In sentencing, Judge Tom O’Donnell said Sheehan was “effectively a full time professional criminal”, noting his 52 previous convictions.
He said the burglaries were planned and premeditated, which led to catastrophic consequences in Parteen.
Judge O’Donnell said it was important to highlight that the it was not the court’s job to seek retribution and that any sentence must be balanced and proportionate; noting Sheehan’s guilty plea, and his efforts to get clean from drugs.
“I am extremely conscious of the tragedy of the offence and acutely aware no matter what sentence is imposed it is not going to turn back the clock nor is it going to alleviate the pain of the injury suffered by the injured party (Eric Ryan) and the difficulties that he and his family have had to endure,” added Judge O’Donnell.
By Kathryn Hayes