People's lives don't seem to matter

By Maurice Garvey

A RECKLESS driver took away the life of his innocent daughter, but 14 years on from the tragedy, road safety campaigner Leo Lieghio still feels the law does more to protect criminals than victims.

The Citywest resident spends much of his time these days campaigning for tougher legislation for impaired drivers. He is a member of the Irish Road Victims Association and regularly gives talks to students and to drivers who have lost their licence for motoring offences.


Road safety campaigner Leo Lieghio

Marsia Leighio (16) was killed while crossing a light-controlled junction with friends at Fonthill Road/Dunawley, Clondalkin in 2005.

The fifth-year student at Coláiste Bríde, was hit at an estimated 80kph by Ciara McAlinden, from Dundalk, who had traveled to Clondalkin to get drugs.

“Speeding recklessly, I’m not talking about 10km over the limit, but 20/30km over, should be charged with manslaughter,” said Leo.

“There is no such thing as an accident. Most collisions are down to bad driving.”

Subsequent court hearings heard McAlinden, a heroin addict, stopped 250 yards up the road but then sped off. She had been convicted a year previously of drink driving and unlicenced driving, and would spend just 10 months behind bars for taking Marsia’s life.

Leo has long called out judges who are “afraid” to hand out appropriate sentences to repeat offenders.

“It is not about new legislation, it is about enforcement. You need strong legislation, strong penalties and strong enforcement.”

Citing the case of a fellow IRVA member who lost a loved one to a driver with 300 previous convictions, including 240 for motoring offences, Leo feels the authorities are reluctant to administer appropriate consequences to drivers who cause fatalities.

“Up to 99 per cent of people you talk to want higher sentences, at least four/five years for killing someone. The excuse given, is that no one went out to intentionally kill someone, but if you are driving at speed, you are endangering other people.

“When there is money involved, you will see tougher sentences. Peoples’ lives don’t seem to matter. There is a lot of self-interest, pubs are closed or their kid needed the car to go to college.

"To hell with that. Get up of your backside and bring your kid to college or drink non-alcoholic beer.”

Leo appeared this week at the AXA Roadsafe Roadshow in the Red Cow.

The event was held in partnership with South Dublin County Council to present a road safety message to 650 local Transition Year students, and featured talks from gardai, paramedics and fire fighters.

“At least AXA and SDCC are trying to do something about it. When Marsia was killed, there was 300 people killed that year on the road, down to 149 last year,” said Leo.

“But you can’t become complacent. There was 18 killed in January alone, that beggars belief. The government are responsible for protecting citizens, but are letting people out of courts when they know they will commit a crime. Someone has to be held accountable.

“I’m doing this because I promised Marsia that I would make her proud of me. Even in death, she is doing something that she loved – helping people.”

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