Twelve-year-old Faith Varden Carberry of County Longford is suing her parents and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland after her mother’s 2007 car accident left her seriously injured, and her younger sister, Ava, dead.
The Irish Independent reports on the case which the young schoolgirl brought to the High Court with the help of her grandfather, Anthony Carberry.
In 2007, Faith’s mother, Mary Carberry, an alcoholic who at the time of the accident was banned from driving due to a prior conviction, crashed her car in Co Longford, killing Ava, then 6 years old, as well as another child, and seriously injuring Faith.
Mary Carberry was sentenced in October 2009 at Longford Circuit Court to six years' imprisonment with two years suspended for dangerous driving causing death. During that trial, the court heard how Mary Carberry was “blackout” drunk and uninsured when she was driving the car during the accident.
As a result of the accident, young Faith was subject to wearing a spinal cast for 10 weeks, and received three months of therapy for the psychological damage she incurred.
Prior to the accident, Mary Carberry and her daughters’ father Thomas Varden had little relationship and had never lived together. However, Varden kept in contact with the children and provided accommodation for them.
Varden told the court that he, as well as Carberry’s parents, had contacted social services concerning the children between 2003 and 2007. He met with social workers a few months before the 2007 accident, but nothing was done.
Having been banned from driving due to a prior conviction, Carberry’s daughters were left to walk a mile and a half each way to school. Carberry appealed to the girls’ father Thomas Varden for help by putting Faith and Ava on the phone to him, telling him they were cold and wet after walking.
"It pulled at my heartstrings," he said.
Feeling for his daughters, and gaining trust in Mary Carberry who was attending Alcoholics Anonymous at the time, Varden purchased a vehicle for €14,000, but insisted that Mary not drive it, knowing that she was suspended.
Mary Carberry took out an insurance policy for the car, but it did not cover her to drive.
Then in 2007, Despite being banned from driving and uninsured, Mary Carberry drove the car from Kildare to Longford while reportedly “blackout” drunk. She ploughed into a mud embankment on a disused road outside Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, killing her daughter Ava and another child, and seriously injuring Faith.
The night of the crash, Varden received a call from the girls’ mother who told him, “If I had a gun I would shoot myself.”
Varden replied, “If I had a gun I would do it for you myself.”
"I thought Faith was dying, but she recognised my voice and I was delighted,” said Varden.
"I did not see Mary Carberry again until Ava's funeral. I was angry. I am still angry.”
"No way would I have given the car to her if I thought she was going to use it that way. I trusted her."
The case continues.