A family has forgiven a speeding driver who almost killed their daughter when he caused an accident which left the 3 year old fighting for her life.
Michael Doherty was just 25 when his jeep caused a crash with another car being driven by Liam Doherty in Clonmany, Inishowen in May, 2011.
His daughter Cassie was severely injured in the crash with fractured vertebrae, a ruptured spleen and internal bleeding and was left in a body cast for several weeks.
She spent several days in Crumlin’s Children’s Hospital and then in Letterkenny General Hospital.
Mr Doherty, now 28, and a stone sculptor, remembers nothing of the crash but pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious injury to the child.
Although he remembers nothing of the crash, he accepted that he was speeding on the evening of the crash on May 15th.
Garda Declan McBride told Letterkenny Circuit Court that Mr Doherty had crossed over to his wrong side of the road forcing Mr Doherty to take evasive action before crashing into a tree and bouncing back to strike the other vehicle.
Garda McBride said Cassie Doherty, now 6, has made a full recovery and is a normal little girl.
He also told the court that the little girl’s family wanted to tell the court that they held no ill feeling towards Michael Doherty.
Indeed the court was told that Mr Doherty had suffered emotionally as a result of causing the little girl’s injuries.
He had visited her in hospital and had brought her a teddy bear and apologised to the Doherty family.
However, it was revealed to the court that Mr Doherty, who works for North West Memorials, has four previous convictions including one for dangerous driving.
Judge Keenan Johnson said he was happy that little Cassie had made a full recovery and commended the courage shown by the Doherty family in forgiving Michael Doherty.
He said he appreciated he was very remorseful and commended his actions in visiting little Cassie in hospital.
He said “These were catastrophic injuries – a fracture to spine – but thankfully she has made a full recovery and that’s the main thing .
“It is quite clear from the probation report that he has suffered enormous remorse. I am also impressed that he didn’t shy away and went to see her and it shows he has a human and caring nature.
“He has accepted it is dangerous and I give him credit for that. I sincerely hope that Dohertys are able to move on and it seems they have.
“There was the element of speed and it is obvious he was traveling too fast on a minor road. He lost control and result was a serious crash. However I am impressed by testimonials and it is clear he is a talented monumental sculptor. There is also a very low risk of reoffending and he is unlikely to see inside of courts again.”
He jailed Doherty for four years but replaced it with 240 hours community service in lieu of the jail sentence.
He also ordered him to do a Pro Social Drivers programme and disqualified him from driving for six years.