Woman (88) reversed over pedestrian after mistaking accelerator for brake

Mary Magowan given suspended sentence over Stillorgan incident which left victim with long-term injuries

An 88-year-old who drove over a pedestrian who was walking behind her car has been given a one year suspended sentence.

Mary Magowan was parked in the overflow carpark at Stillorgan Shopping Centre in Dublin when she reversed over Suzanne Brennan. Ms Brennan (49) was knocked to the ground but the car continued to reverse at speed, driving over her.

Magowan, of Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, continued to reverse the car and crashed into another parked vehicle before colliding with some nearby railings, which brought the vehicle to a stop. She pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing serious injury on October 18th, 2021.

Garda Janine Jordan told David Perry BL, prosecuting, that an off-duty garda happened to be passing by and came over to speak to Magowan, who was visibly shaken after the incident and remained in her car for an hour while she waited for her children to collect her.


It was accepted that she made immediate admissions and told gardaí that she tried to stop her car when she saw the woman passing behind but she must have mistaken her brake for the accelerator. She later made a statement to local gardaí accepting full responsibility.

Mr Perry told the court that Ms Brennan was left with a broken pelvis, a dislocated shoulder, numerous fractures to her right arm, nerve damage to both arms, broken ribs and a torn bladder. She spent seven weeks in hospital undergoing numerous surgeries and her treatment is ongoing.

A victim impact statement was handed into court but was not read out. Mr Perry said Ms Brennan later told gardaí that she was screaming for help after being knocked down and her breathing was laboured due to the injuries to her ribs.

Surrendered licence

It was accepted that Magowan had been deemed medically fit to drive at the time and had a clean driving licence. She surrendered her driving licence after the accident.

Rebecca Smith BL, defending, said her client thinks about the victim every day and is full of remorse and regret. Counsel asked the court to consider Magowan’s immediate admissions, the fact that she has no previous convictions and that she immediately surrendered her licence.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was a tragic situation and that Ms Brennan was effectively driven over after Magowan lost control of the car and spun backwards at a reasonably high speed. He said the injuries suffered by Ms Brennan had “a great effect on her life” and had left her with long-term problems.

“Obviously I wish the best for her and I hope she recovers fully. She has endured a lot of pain and suffering because of this accident,” he said.

The judge said people make mistakes when driving and Magowan’s was a bad one. “Her age probably contributed to the mistake but I believe she is very remorseful and she will not drive again,” he added.

Judge Nolan said he did not think Magowan deserved a custodial term because he “could not identify an aggravating factor in the case”. He suspended a one year term of imprisonment on strict conditions and disqualified Magowan from driving for three years.