Damien McGeehan pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Marie O’Donnell on August 11th, 2010 in Milford.
Mrs O’Donnell, a mother of two, was returning home from a 25th anniversary party, when McGeehan crossed to the wrong side of the road and smashed head-on into her car.
She was killed instantly and her husband John, who was sleeping in the car, suffered multiple injuries.
McGeehan, 20, appeared in Letterkenny Circuit Court on crutches after pleading guilty to a range of charges.
He admitted to having no insurance, no driving license, driving unaccompanied, driving dangerously and driving with two bald tyres.
The court heard how McGeehan and girlfriend Simone Duggan had been at a function and returned to Ms Duggan’s flat where they had an argument.
He went looking for the keys to his car which she had hidden.
He eventually found them and raced out the door into his car as she jumped into the car in her pyjamas pleading with him not to drive.
McGeehan, originally from Loughanure but with an address at 1 New Cottage, Loughanure, Annagry, had not been uninsured as he had failed to keep up payments on his €4,000 premium for his Honda Civic car.
McGeehan was only a little over 600 yards up the road when he smashed into Mrs O’Donnell from Knockbrack, Portsalon, and her husband in their Nissan Micra car.
The well-known teacher from Drumfad National School in Kerrykeel died and her husband was hospitalised.
Mr O’Donnell suffered head injuries, a fractured sternum, a liver bleed and had part of his intestine removed.
McGeehan broke both his ankles, his elbow and suffered a punctured lung and was in a coma for days after the crash on the road between Milford and Kilmcrennan.
In his victim impact statement John O’Donnell said his wife was the centre of his family’s world.
He said he could not describe his loneliness and the impact her death had had on the couple’s two sons George and Jonathon.
“Marie was a beautiful person with a heart of gold. And her loss is not isolated to me.
“Our sons George and Jonathon. Can you imagine the pain of their loss – never being able to speak to their mum again,” he said.
Mrs O’Donnell’s son George said the last thing he remembers about his mum on the night she was killed was her doing a twirl and asking him if she looked well.
The tragic teacher’s other son was broken the news by an aunt who contacted him by phone as he was camping in California
In his statement son Jonathon said “She was beautiful. A firecracker on the 4th – drop dead beautiful. Her memory is the drive I need. She will always be the force that will always push me to my potential,” he said.
The accused Damian McGeehan told the court that he has wanted so many times to apologise to the O’Donnell family but could not.
“I wanted to say I could not imagine the damage I have caused and I cannot sympathise enough with him (John O’Donnell) and his family. I am sorry to take away a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and an aunt,” he said.
“I am so sorry to the O’Donnell family for my actions completely and utterly. I can’t put them into words,” he said.
Judge John O’Hagan said the event was preventable, avoidable and didn’t have to happen.
“It is shocking and not unusual in Donegal. The clock can’t be turned back.
“The affect of this has left a family totally and utterly devastated and it will happen again. It has happened since and there are other cases in the pipeline.
“There are bereaved people in this county whose loved ones will not be coming back. They are entitled to ask why, why?” he said.
He sentenced McGeehan to five years in prison and banned him from driving for 20 years for dangerous driving causing death.
For driving without insurance he jailed him for six months and banned him from driving for 12 months with these terms to run concurrently.
He took the other charges including driving unaccompanied, driving without a license and driving with bald tyres into consideration.