The driver of a road sweeping vehicle who fatally collided with a child had previously caused the death of a pedestrian while driving his car illegally in a bus lane, a court has heard.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Carl Scully (34) checked the mirrors of his road sweeper before reversing, but failed to observe the screen of a rear view camera in his vehicle in which the child moving towards the sweeper would have been visible.
Family members described Devin Shepherd (7) as a much loved boy, who was intelligent, outspoken, energetic, kind and caring, loved by his classmates and family.
Scully previously received a six-month suspended sentence which was imposed in June 2023 for careless driving causing the death of a man which occurred nine months earlier.
Scully of Glenhill Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of the young boy at St Joseph’s Way, Poppintree, Ballymun on September 1st, 2019.
He has 15 previous District Court convictions from 2009 and 2013. He has two prior road traffic convictions for failing to display tax.
The court heard that nine months before Devin’s death, Scully, driving his own car, had entered a bus lane before it was permitted, leading to a fatal collision with Anthony Hanney (61) who was crossing the road through traffic towards his home at Finglas Road on December 12th, 2018.
Jailing Scully for 18 months on Monday Judge Pauline Codd said this was a very sad and difficult case involving the death of a beloved child due to the careless driving of the accused.
She said the maximum sentence available to the court for this offence was two years’ imprisonment.
She noted that Scully had been operating a road sweeper and that Devin came running behind him. She said any prudent driver knew children were liable to do anything, as they were not in a position to assess danger. She said it was incumbent on a driver in the vicinity of children to be ultra careful.
Judge Codd, who had watched CCTV footage of the events in her chambers, said from her observation the vehicle was driven in a brusque manner, given the presence of children.
She said the decision to reverse seemed sudden, and not taken with the due care that should be taken in the presence of children. She said Scully was a highly trained driver of an industrial-type vehicle and it was incumbent on him to show greater care.
She noted he was moving at low speed. She said he remained at the scene, attempted to help Devin and was in a state of shock.
She said the offence did not come at the uppermost range of the offence, but Scully does have a prior conviction for careless driving causing death.
She said the court took into account the devastating loss of Devin on those close to him and extended her sympathies to his family in their immense grief.
Judge Codd said in cases such as this, the measure of a sentence was not a measure of the value of a deceased person’s life, but of the accused person’s culpability in the circumstances of the case. She said sentencing was not an exercise in vengeance or retaliation.
She set a headline sentence of 24 months’ imprisonment, the maximum headline sentence.
She took into account in mitigation his guilty plea, personal circumstances and his expression of remorse in a letter handed into court. She also noted a psychological report outlining Scully’s emotional and mental health difficulties. She took into account his involvement with his children.
She imposed 18 months’ imprisonment and disqualified him from driving for 10 years.
Scully interjected and asked the court to remove his licence for life.
Devin’s sister, Yasmin, told the court in her victim impact statement that Devin’s loss had torn her family apart and they are unable to enjoy birthdays, Halloween and Christmas. She described the pain and grief they continue to feel and the depression her father has suffered.
She said the family had not received an apology or seen any remorse.
Devin’s mother Geraldine outlined in her victim impact statement how Devin had been her life and described him as an intelligent, outspoken, energetic, kind and caring boy, loved by his classmates and family.
She described her devastation and said he had been taken from the family by Scully’s actions. She urged the judge to impose a lengthy sentence.