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 west Co Limerick on June 30th, 2022.
Ms McDonnell was initially charged last December with eight offences arising out of the incident, which left Garda Insp Niall Flood with serious injuries, including, dangerous driving causing serious injury; dangerous driving; drink-driving; drug-driving; no insurance; failing to stop following a collision; failing to offer assistance; and failing to keep a vehicle at or near the scene of the incident.
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 Garda Insp Flood.
Garda Insp Flood, stationed at Henry Street Garda station, in Limerick city, was cycling along a stretch of the R522 at Conmore, Dromcollogher, last June, when a car driven by Ms McDonnell struck him.
He sustained “life-changing injuries”, prosecution counsel Lilly Buckley, told Ms McDonnell’s arraignment hearing.
“It’s going to take the State some time to put the medical evidence together, and [Garda Insp’s] treatment is continuing,” Ms Buckley said.
Garda Insp Flood was thrown from his bike in the impact and was treated at the scene by gardaí and paramedics before being airlifted by Irish Community Air Ambulance charity “Critical” to Cork University Hospital where he underwent surgery.
Garda Insp 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 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.
On April 21st last, Michael Sheridan, the chief executive of Critical, tweeted how he was grateful after the charity received a €20,000 donation from Garda Insp Flood, which had been raised by his wife Margaret and his Garda colleagues.
Tweeting a photograph of himself, along with Garda Insp Flood and a colleague, Mr Sheridan wrote: “It was a pleasure to meet with Garda Traffic 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 Garda Insp 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,” added Cllr Galvin.