Texting driver under influence of cocaine jailed for killing air hostess in collision

A man who had taken cocaine and had been texting his girlfriend when the car he was driving knocked down and killed an Italian air hostess near Liverpool Airport has been jailed for three years.

Kieran Cooney, 30, of Speke, was driving his Ford Focus on Hale Road in Speke near midnight on 22 August 2022, when he collided with Cinzia Ceravolo (pictured above), 36, an Italian national who was living in Liverpool.

She was employed as a cabin steward by Ryanair and had returned to Liverpool on a flight that night and was making her way home when she was hit.

Hale Road runs along the perimeter of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Mr Cooney was driving at around 41 mph at the time of the impact. The speed limit on that section of the road is 40mph.

He had been receiving text messages from his girlfriend, which he read. He also responded with one message which was sent seven seconds before he hit Ms Ceravolo as she crossed the road.

Ms Ceravolo had almost reached the other side of the road when she was hit. She suffered a significant head wound along with catastrophic injuries to her limbs. 

She was taken to University Hospital Aintree and then transferred to Walton Neurological Centre where staff battled to save her life but treatment was withdrawn eventually as she was unresponsive. She died on 27 August 2022.

Mr Cooney had been to watch a football match and was driving to his girlfriend’s house when the crash happened.

He remained at the scene as members of the public tried to give Ms Ceravolo first aid.  He was arrested at the scene. He tested negative for alcohol but positive for cocaine.

He was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and driving while the proportion of cocaine in his system was over the limit. He pleaded guilty on 27 October 2023 at Liverpool Crown Court. Today, 14 December, at the same court he was sentenced to three years in jail and disqualified from driving for six and half years.

The family of Ms Ceravolo could not travel from Italy to attend the hearing but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) arranged for members of her family to watch proceedings from a police station in Rome, via a video link and an interpreter was provided.

Ms Ceravolo’s mother gave the CPS a Victim Personal Statement which was read to the court. She said, “They say death is final, but it is not so for those left behind. They experience a different kind of pain every day. I cannot explain the way in which I miss her. I can barely understand it myself, it happens all of a sudden, like a gust of frost.

“I feel it in my stomach, in my bones, in my heart. Then it goes away, and I just feel a little bit lonelier. The pain is in the air, I breathe it every time I think of her (and I think of her constantly). I would have wished for her arms to become strong supports for me to lean on when my own life would slow down. I would have wished to have faith in her future, allowing myself to be cradled by memories.

“This “gentleman” …decided to drive under the influence of drugs and killed a wonderful girl who was coming back from work and was just waiting for a taxi.”

Senior Crown Prosecutor Joshua Sanderson-Kirk of CPS Mersey- Cheshire said, ““This was a tragic case in which the CPS and Merseyside Police have worked closely to ensure the defendant was brought to justice. 

“A number of members of the public stopped at the scene and tried to help Miss Ceravolo. They then became witnesses and helped us to present the case against Mr Cooney. I’d like to thank them for their assistance. 

“This case serves as a reminder that the use of a mobile phone when driving and the taking of drugs can have tragic consequences.

“The family of Ms Ceravolo have written about her love of the culture and music of England, particularly Liverpool, and why she chose to make her home here.  She was clearly loved deeply by all who knew her.  I would like to take this opportunity to offer my most sincere condolences to the friends and family of Miss Ceravolo.”

Lead image: Cinzia Ceravolo/Family handout

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Kieran Cooney