A Co Tyrone man who was two-and-a-half times the legal drink-drive limit when he killed popular Donegal GAA fan Patsy McCroary in a head-on collision has been sentenced to five years and banned from driving for six years.
Judge Paul Ramsey QC told 50-year-old Paul Nicholl that his history of alcohol abuse had led him to the ultimate horror of being responsible for and causing the death of another human being.
The Omagh Crown Court judge said while he could accept Nicholl’s early guilty plea, his remorse, lack of criminal driving record and the fact he himself was injured, he could not “overlook the very high reading” of his alcohol level.
Nicholl, of Carnkenny Road, Newtownstewart, had pleaded guilty to causing the death of the 62-year-old avid GAA fan, known affectionately as ‘Donegal Patsy’, by careless driving with excess alcohol and causing grievous bodily injury to his wife and children.
The court had heard Nicholl lost control of his Suzuki car after hitting a kerb and careering into a car carrying Mr McCroary, his wife and two children on the road between Sion Mills and Victoria Bridge in January 2014.
Judge Ramsey said he had been given”eloquent, moving and heart rending” victim impact reports from the family which spoke volumes of Mr McCroary both as a husband and father.
His wife Geraldine said she still missed him, “as do the children ... our lives have not been the same”, while his son Padraig commented that, “I was his only son and miss him so much.”