Man with deplorable record accelerated at Gardaí

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Man thanks judge at a Donegal court for jailing him in the past

A 21-year-old man with a “deplorable” record of previous convictions for driving offences has lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence for accelerating a car at a garda.

Eric Harcourt (21) of Belcamp Grove, Priorswood, Dublin 17 had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to endangerment and the unlawful use of a vehicle in Darndale, in the capital on September 23, 2014.

He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on February 5, 2016. He was on bail at the time the offence was committed and his sentence was made consecutive to a term already being served.

Harcourt lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence on Friday, November 1 with the Court of Appeal unable to identify an error in principle.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said gardai came across a car parked in a cul de sac in the Darndale area of Dublin with its lights on.

One of the Gardai approached the car on foot and, as he did so, the driver of the car accelerated, brushing against the Garda, and sped away.

The Garda was not injured and the only evidence against Harcourt was identification evidence by three Gardai.

Mr Justice Mahon said Harcourt had a “deplorable” record of previous convictions for serious driving offences. The sentencing judge expressed her belief that it was only a matter of time before a fatality would occur as a result of his driving.

At the age of 20, he had 67 previous convictions, the earliest of which was recorded when he was 13.

Mr Justice Mahon said the suggestion by Mr Kelly that credit should be given to Harcourt because no injuries were caused to the garda was “stretching things to their limit”.

The fact was a garda doing their duty was lucky to escape injury. By all accounts Harcourt “probably intended” to cause harm to prevent a pursuit and these were matters the sentencing judge was entitled to take into account, Mr Justice Mahon said.

He said it was evident from the judge's remarks that the principles of totality and proportionality were foremost in her mind.

Having regard to the seriousness of the offence and Harcourt's “appaling” record, a four year sentence was not unreasonable.

In circumstances where he fully contested the charge, the suspension of the final 18 months of his sentence, a reduction of about 40%, “might be regarded as a generous discount”.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court was satisfied that no error in principle had been established.

DRIVING BAN INCREASED TO 40 YEARS