A 26 year old man was yesterday jailed for eight months for his role in the fatal crash that claimed the life of Ennis GAA coach, Eugene McNamara.
Brother of double All-Ireland hurling winner, Stephen McNamara, Mr McNamara (42) was walking along a footpath at the Gort Rd roundabout near McDonald’s in Ennis on October 26th 2016 when he was struck from behind in the crash and Mr McNamara died from his injures six days later in hospital.
Milan Rac of Burton Street, Kilrush was a passenger in the stolen car and at Ennis District Court on Thursday, he pleaded guilty to knowingly being a passenger in the stolen car on October 26th 2016.
Jailing the Slovakian for eight months and banning him from driving for four years, Judge Patrick Durcan told the court that “a man was killed by virtue of Mr Rac’s participation in a most serious criminal endeavour”.
Members of Mr McNamara’s family were in court for the case and Judge Durcan said: “Someone who allowed themselves to be carried in a stolen vehicle has a huge responsibility and in this case, the consequences were huge.”
Judge Durcan said that a vehicle “is the most lethal weapon available to citizens”.
Judge Durcan said that a seriously aggravating factor in the case was that Mr Rac was detected drink driving by Gardai only four weeks prior to the fatal crash.
The drink driving conviction is one of two drink-driving convictions that Mr Rac has.
Insp Tom Kennedy said that after the car crashed at around 10pm, Mr Rac “legged it” from the scene and was apprehended by an off-duty Garda who gave chase.
Insp Kennedy said that Mr McNamara’s death puts Mr Rac’s offence into a different perspective and category.
Solicitor for Mr Rac, Edel Ryan said: “What happened was very regrettable and very tragic and Mr Rac is very sorry for his part in it.”
She said: “Mr Rac was quite drunk and he was impaired in his decision making.”
Ms Ryan said that Mr Rac was walking home and accepted a lift from the driver of the car who is a relative.
Ms Ryan said: “If he wasn’t in a better state, he wouldn’t have accepted the lift. He didn’t give much thought to getting into the car and he was just happy to get a lift home.”
Ms Ryan said: “He is very sorry. He didn’t intend to do anything wrong and he accepts that he made a terrible decision on the evening in question.”
Ms Ryan said that Mr Rac has lived in Ireland for seven years “and has struggled with homelessness and a lack of employment and left school at 15.”
She said: “He doesn’t have a great record when it comes to road traffic and he
turned life around after a hard slog. He has found himself a home and a steady job. He has pleaded guilty for his part in these tragic events and he is very sorry.”
Insp Kennedy said that another man is facing a charge of dangerous driving causing death arising from Mr McNamara’s death and that case is due to be heard shortly before Ennis Circuit Court.