Lee Peacock (25) had consumed four glasses of wine over a number of hours before the collision and was travelling at 80kmph in a 60 kmph speed zone. He told gardaí initially he had swerved prior to the accident to avoid an oncoming car but later said it was to avoid a pedestrian on the road.
He later accepted the deceased woman, Jane Dardis, had put her hand on the steering wheel prior to the collision but said she had not been messing and had jerked it a bit in fright when they saw a pedestrian on the road. Peacock said he then swerved to avoid the pedestrian. Peacock said he had not wanted to attribute any blame to Ms Dardis.
Peacock of Seafield Court, Lower Main Street, Rush, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing the death of Ms Dardis at Rush Road, Skerries on October 25, 2016. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Martin Nolan expressed his condolences to Ms Dardis’s family on the terrible tragedy.
He noted the conflicting statements given by Peacock and said he must come to some conclusion about what happened on the night. He said the facts were not clear and he wished to think about it over night.
Judge Nolan remanded Peacock on continuing bail until tomorrow morning when he will finalise the case.
A victim impact statement from Ms Dardis’s family described themselves as now being a “heartbroken, devastated family of three” without her. They described the popular young woman’s “infectious smile” and love of sports including camogie and sailing.
“Jane loved life and life loved her. She was truly a special person,” said her family of the beloved daughter, sister and friend.
Roisin Lacey SC, defending, said Peacock had made admissions from the start about his drinking and excessive speed. She said Peacock had initially not recalled Ms Dardis’s hand being on the steering wheel and when he did, he did not want to seem to be attributing blame to her.
She said Peacock had a close relationship with Ms Dardis and has been significantly traumatised by her death. She said her family’s tragedy is deeply acknowledged and deeply regretted by him.
Ms Lacey said Peacock had grown up in foster care and had supported himself from the age of 18. She said the father-of-one hopes to have a continued career in the hospitality industry. She handed in a number of testimonials on her client’s behalf.
She said Peacock had also written a letter in which she said he accepts his responsibility. She said the court may wish to seek a psychiatric report based on the contents of medial reports indicating concern about his psychiatric vulnerability.
Counsel asked the court to take into account the way he has met the case, his lack of convictions and that gardaí accept he is unlikely to come before the courts again. She asked Judge Nolan to consider a non custodial sentence.
Ms Lacey said Peacock had made a very grave error which weighs heavily on him and will do for the rest of his life.