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Driver who caused woman’s death will be ‘haunted forever’

A man whose dangerous driving caused the death of a local woman in a Gaeltacht village in west Cork after two funerals, where he buried his father and she buried her uncle, said he would be haunted forever by what he had done.

Michael Lucey, of Doire Ghiolla Fhinn, Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh, who pleaded guilty to causing the death of Gobnait Twomey, will be sentenced tomorrow.

Gobnait Twomey, also a native of Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh, had graduated from college as a physiotherapist just months before her death on 13 December 2022.

The barrister representing 42-year-old Michael Lucey said that the farmer would live with the guilt of being responsible for the death of Gobnait Twomey for the rest of his life.

Elizabeth O’Connell, SC, representing Lucey, told Judge Colin Daly that “there are other prisons other than those made of stone”.

Gda O’Mahony said Michael Lucey was visibly distressed when he realised that he had killed Gobnait Twomey

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that the accident occurred at 1.10am.

Garda Deirdre O’Mahony said that on 12 December 2022 Lucey had attended the funeral of his father whilst Ms Twomey had travelled from her home in Dublin for the funeral of her uncle who had died suddenly.

Lucey had attended a reception after the funeral of his father. He made a decision to drive home in the car of another man whom it was felt had too much to drink.

He drove down the main street in the village. The road narrowed on the bend and whilst there was light present it was of poor quality.

Ms Twomey, her sister and her mother were exchanging condolences with a brother of the defendant and another man.

The Hyundai car crashed into Ms Twomey who was pronounced dead at the scene. Other people present were injured in the incident.

Gda O’Mahony said Lucey was visibly distressed when he realised that he had killed Gobnait Twomey.

The court heard that the quantity of alcohol detected in his system on the date of the offence was 179mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine.

Dashcam footage of the scene obtained by gardaí revealed that Lucey had been driving at an average speed of just 27.3km/h. He was under the speed limit.

Ms O’Connell said that as her client was over the drink-drive limit his reaction time was poor. The mourners were also all in black and the lighting was relatively poor.

She said that her client was hugely remorseful for what had occurred and wanted to apologise profusely to the family of the deceased.

She said that Lucey, who has no previous convictions, was a thoroughly decent man. Ms O’Connell added that her client was not a heavy or even a regular drinker.

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Jay Amari, the partner of Ms Twomey, made a powerful victim impact statement. He said he was at their home in Dublin at 5am on 13 December 2022 having attended a work Christmas party.

He was woken by a knock at the door. Two gardaí informed him that his beloved Gobnait had died.

“It was like being stabbed. It was a shock for me. I thought Ballingeary was the safest place in the world.”

Mr Amari said that Gobnait had dedicated the last few years of her life to her studies. He told Judge Daly that Gobnait had graduated from college the September prior to her passing.

“The day after she died she received an offer from a recruitment agency. I lost my best friend. We were together 11 years.”

The French national said that since the sudden death of his partner, his life has been completely empty.

He pays his rent and bills and goes to work but his existence feels meaningless.

“I have nobody to live for now. It hurts me to go to Cork. Cork was Gobait and Gobnait was Cork. I miss her every day.”

Seán Twomey, the brother of Gobnait Twomey, also made a powerful victim impact statement on behalf of his family. Gobnait was one of nine children.

He said that Gobnait had the travel bug from the time she went on a J1 to America as a teenager. She had made friends all over the world. He stressed that Gobnait was “generous to a fault” and wherever she was “craic” followed.

“She wore her heart on her sleeve. She was the best of all of us.”

Pádraig Horgan, who was injured in the collision, also delivered a victim impact statement.

He said that he would never forget seeing Eibhlís Twomey kneeling over the body of her daughter on the road.

“This was a harrowing experience. It will haunt me every day.”

He suffers from back injuries which impact on the quality of his life.

Lucey pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Gobnait Twomey. He also pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and to a second charge of dangerous driving.

Sentencing in the case was adjourned until tomorrow afternoon to facilitate the reading of reports by Judge Colin Daly.

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