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‘Now there’s just a void that can never be filled’

A GRIEVING mother whose 20-year-old son was killed in a road traffic collision in County Cavan over two years ago has said that the “terrible loss” will haunt her for the rest of her life.

Gareth Wilson, who was from Crotty Road, Tattyreagh, was a passenger in a car that crashed into a stone wall at Station Road, Cootehill on July 31, 2016.

The driver of the car, 28-year-old Aidan Quinn, of Corbally Road, Fintona, has been jailed for four years for causing Mr Wilson’s death by dangerous driving.

Appearing before Cavan Circuit Criminal Court, Quinn was also banned from driving for 30 years.

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Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Wilson’s mother, Eleanor Callaghan, said, “I think that the 30 years’ [driving ban] is great. That’s the best thing, him going to jail that is not something that we want to see. It doesn’t give us pleasure, but he needs to be put off the road.”

In an incredibly raw 11-page victim impact statement (VIS) prepared for the court, the Tattyreagh woman stated, “This is only a small part of how this terrible loss of my beautiful, lively precious son Gareth has affected me and will continue to affect me for the rest of my life.”

Admitting that it had taken her months to finally get the strength to write the VIS, she said it was “so very difficult” to put into words how the senseless loss had affected her.

Recalling her last telephone conversation with her son just hours before his death, she said, “He was in good form telling me all the antics. My last words to Gareth were to keep in touch and he replied, “Aye”.”

The nurse said that her family did not receive any form of apology from Quinn, who worked with both Gareth and his father Lewis Wilson, until two months after the crash.

“It would’ve been so much easier to talk to us after Gareth died than waiting months,” she stated.

A few days after Gareth’s funeral, his mother went down to the scene of the accident, accompanied by both his father and his girlfriend Alannah.

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She stated, “My whole outlook on what happened and my feelings changed instantly… to me an accident is something that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally. This tragedy could most definitely have been avoided. I thank God every day that no other lives were taken that evening because no family should have to go through this never-ending pain.”

When Gareth was killed, Eleanor had been a mature student at the University of Ulster and was a month away from completing her nursing degree. She didn’t get to graduate with her fellow students at that time, but finally qualified in June 2017.

“This was so bitter-sweet, I wanted Gareth there to see. I never attended my graduation, how could I? My family was incomplete. The life and soul of our family was gone, it was just so difficult,” she stated.

Since the tragedy, Eleanor said that her hopes and dreams had “changed”.

In her VIS, it is stated that she finds it difficult at night and rarely goes out.

“I think of my last conversation with him and I remember the many happy, lively years I had with him,” she stated.

The Tattyreagh woman said that her home was “so very quiet now”.

“Gareth was the heart of our family. I know his dad, brother and sister all agree with me. Now there’s just that emptiness, a void that can never be filled.”

She also treasures several recordings that she made of her son.

“It brings me comfort to know Gareth loved his life and lived it to the full. But I also know I will never get over his loss.”

Eleanor said she will keep on wondering what life would have been like for her family with Gareth in it.

“I will sadly miss him getting married, having children and making a name for himself… Gareth had a heart of gold under his lively exterior,” she stated.

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