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A woman who hit a cyclist out training – an off duty Garda – while drink driving has been jailed for seven years, with two suspended (Photo: Damien Storan)

A woman who was drunk driving when she hit a cyclist out training, severing his foot, has been jailed for seven years, with the final two suspended.

Niamh McDonnell (30), a mother of two from Gortskagh, Castlemahon, Co Limerick, was sentenced today by judge Tom O’Donnell at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court. The mother of two was also banned from driving for 10 years and wept in the court as the sentence was handed down.

The court heard the details of the drinks and drugs consumed by McDonnell before she got behind the wheel and hit off-duty garda, Insp Niall Flood, severing his foot. McDonnell did not stop at the scene, with an examination of the road unearthing no evidence she had ever braked.

When she arrived home her partner found the severed foot wedged in the front of the car and rang the emergency services. Insp Flood was left by the roadside, having landed chest-deep in water in a ditch, bleeding out.

The court was last week told how the injured man was saved when a passerby went to his aid, fashioning a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Insp Flood, an experienced cyclist also suffered fractures to his spine, shoulder and ribs and was left temporarily blind.

He lives in Dromcollogher, Co Limerick, and was out cycling on the evening of June 30th, 2022, close to his home when he was hit from behind. The crash occurred on the R522, between Dromcollogher and Feoghanagh, near Newcastle West at 7.15pm.

Mr Flood, who had lights on his bike and was riding in a straight line, was airlifted from the crash scene by the Irish Community Air Ambulance service and was taken to Cork University Hospital. While he survived the crash, he suffered life changing injuries. Due to the continued severity of those injuries, he was not able to attend Limerick Circuit Court when McDonnell pleaded guilty last week.

She pleaded to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm, failing to stop at the scene, failing to provide assistance, and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The court was last week told McDonnell had smoked a joint on the morning of the crash and then went to work in a creche in Co Limerick. When she knocked off at 2.30pm she went to a pub where she had five vodkas and five shots, including whiskey and tequila, before driving home.

She declined the offer of a lift and instead got behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Passat and while driving home she hit Insp Flood. She continued on her journey after the crash, with a broken windscreen and flat tyre.

While Insp Flood was not in court last week, his wife, Margaret Flood, told the hearing McDonnell had acted in a “cruel” way in leaving her husband by the roadside. She added “you would stop if you hit a dog” and that the crash had turned her family’s life upside down.

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