The woman who caused the death of a pensioner by crashing into her car has escaped arrest.
Asinta Grimley (51) appeared at Newry Crown Court on Friday, pleading guilty to causing the death of Maureen Duffy, 71, by careless driving on the Loughgall to Armagh Road on July 14, 2019.
She received an enhanced sentence of 100 hours of community service and 12 months of probation, as well as a one-year driving ban.
Judge Gordon Kerr KC said it was clear that Ms Duffy’s children and grandchildren “loved her dearly” and that the retired teacher was “at the center of all family activities”.
KC Ciaran Murphy, prosecuting, told the court how it was a beautiful summer day when a Honda Civic traveling past Grimley from St Patrick’s Park in Armagh came through the intersection and collided with Ms Duffy’s Vauxhall Viva.
Ms Duffy’s car came to rest in a nearby field, with other drivers stopping to help, including an off-duty nurse who administered first aid.
Emergency services attended the scene, but she was pronounced dead an hour after the crash.
Ms Duffy, whose grieving relatives were in the public gallery, was a mother-of-two who originally came from Glasgow but moved to Northern Ireland after a family promotion. She taught English at a school in Irvine for over 20 years.
Mr Murphy told the court Grimley was spoken to at the scene and she told police she “thought it was a straight road” and was unaware there was a junction ahead on the only rural carriageway.
A forensic engineer examined the scene and found that, in addition to the heavy wear of the road markings at the intersection, a warning sign 60 meters from the intersection was partially obscured by foliage.
Despite these features, Mr Murphy said a careful driver should have seen the roofs of the cars at right angles to the intersection over the top of the hedge.
Barrister Kevin O’Hara made it clear that while his focus was on Grimley, nothing he said was intended to diminish the loss suffered by Ms Duffy’s family.
He told the court that Grimley, as a mother and grandmother, was “devastated by the death of Ms Duffy and takes full responsibility for her actions and accepts the consequences of the victim’s tragic death”.
Stressing that Grimley had a clear record and pleaded guilty early, he said it was clear Ms Duffy was an “exceptional person”.
“Nothing you can impose here will undo that loss, but it is clear from the reports that Mrs Grimley will take responsibility and know that she is at fault for the accident that caused Ms Duffy’s death,” he added.
Judge Kerr said he “can only sympathize” with the Duffy family, who have been left with “a void that will never be filled”.
He said that given the recommendations, Grimley’s plea and the clear record, a 10-month prison sentence would be appropriate, but added that he was also obliged to consider an enhanced joint order with that length of sentence.
After the sentence was passed, the judge warned Grimley if she breached any aspect of it: “You will be brought back to court and I can assure you that I will impose a custodial sentence.”