07 Oct 2022

Family of son killed on Laois to Offaly road miss him 'every minute of every day'

John Gorman went to school in Portarlington

Gorman family Walsh Island

Ann Gorman holds a picture of her late son John, with John's father James and brother Adam when they attended the inquest in Tullamore

THE father of the young man killed in a car crash near Geashill almost seven years ago has spoken of the impact the tragic death had on the family.

Walsh Island student John Gorman was 19 when the car he was driving was struck by another vehicle which suddenly crossed the road and collided with him.

“He was amazing, a gentle child,” said James Gorman. “We miss him every day and every minute of every day.”

The inquest into Mr Gorman's death took place on Friday and the jury returned a verdict of accidental killing having heard that the driver of a Volvo, Dariusz Alchimionek, had no reason to go onto the wrong side of the road at about lunchtime on December 29, 2015.

The Coroner's Court was told Mr Gorman's Opel Corsa was pushed 9.5 metres back in the opposite direction by the crash.

Mr Alchimionek's car then spun on the road and was struck by a third car which had been travelling behind it.

John Gorman was returning home from Tullamore with his younger brother Adam who he had brought to an appointment with an orthodontist.

Aged 16, he sustained injuries in the crash and his evidence to the inquest was that the last thing he could remember was passing through Geashill village.

“We're lucky that Adam wasn't killed. I do know that if he was killed that day I wouldn't be here today, without a doubt,” said Mr Gorman.

The inquest had been delayed because of criminal proceedings against Mr Alchimionek, a successful appeal against a manslaughter verdict, and the impact of Covid-19.

After sitting through the inquest at Tullamore courthouse Mr Gorman said it had been difficult for himself, his wife Ann and son Adam. John is also survived by a sister, Joanne.

“We mightn't have been able for this any sooner,” said Mr Gorman. “My wife is sick and listening to the [pathologist] who spoke about the post mortem, it was fairly graphic in the details. I have never been at an inquest before so you don't know what to expect.

“My wife is in a wheelchair, she's battling cancer and I know well she wouldn't be like this only for what happened.”

Mr Alchimionek was originally charged with dangerous driving causing death but the Gorman family successfully lobbied for a manslaughter charge to be brought against him.

He denied the charge at a Circuit Court trial in Tullamore where the defence presented evidence that he was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the crash.

Though the judge advised the jury that the logical verdict would be one of not guilty by reason of insanity, the Polish native was found guilty of manslaughter but that verdict was subsequently quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Alchimionek, who suffered relatively minor injuries in the crash himself, was treated in St Fintan's Hospital, Portlaoise and was transferred to the Central Mental Hospital.

Though his manslaughter conviction was overturned, he remains a patient there and was excused from attendance at the inquest.

In an interview, James Gorman said the family could only now wonder where their oldest son would be now had he lived.

“Where is a suitable place for John? It's not in a graveyard at 19 years of age,” he said.

A past pupil of Walsh Island national school, he attended secondary school in Colaiste Iosagain, Portarlington and won a role model of the year award in 2015, his Leaving Certificate year. He then began studying computer science at the University of Limerick. More below picture.

Pictured above: John Gorman, on left, and Owen O'Donnell with their Leaving Cert results at Colaiste Iosagain, Portarlington. Photo: Michael Scully

“He had started in September, a four-year course. He got four months. And he was doing great down there,” said Mr Gorman.

He said John's decision to drive his younger brother to the orthodontist in Tullamore that day was typical of what he would do to help his family.

“He liked doing things like that for us. That was just part of what he did.”

The family were clear before the inquest about the outcome they wished for.

“Accidental death, we didn't want that. We didn't want suicide and we didn't want an open verdict or death by misadventure,” said Mr Gorman.

They applauded when the jury returned with the verdict of accidental killing.

“It doesn't change anything but at least it's what happened. It's as simple as that.”

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