A 64-year-man who left the scene after rear-ending a car and later told gardaí he thought the other car had simply broken down, had a prison sentence lifted on appeal before Portlaoise Circuit Court.
Martin Keenan (64) received a driving ban and a one-month prison sentence when the matter came before the district court, for an incident in which he failed to provide information after a traffic collision.
He appealed the prison sentence at the recent sitting of Portlaoise Circuit Court.
State solicitor, Mr Donal Dunne gave evidence that on September 2, 2015, at the toll plaza in Portlaoise, there was a traffic collision in which a car was smashed from behind.
The driver of the smashed car got out and saw damage to the rear of her vehicle and the driver of the other car, Martin Keenan, admitted crashing into her.
He then drove off and when the gardaí later made contact with him he said he had been travelling with a friend from Navan and stopped because he thought the woman had broken down.
He had 39 previous convictions over a 20-year period, said Mr Dunne, many for road traffic matters.
Barrister, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said her client had contested the matter in the district court, but was now entering a guilty plea.
She said he would accept the driving disqualification if the court would give him a chance regarding the prison sentence.
Ms Fitzpatrick said that her client was a father to 24 children, 17 of whom are still living, and lives in very impoverished circumstances in a hut.
She said the appellant suffered with Bell’s Palsy and was quite debilitated, taking a multitude of tablets.
He is on social welfare for his disability, and should have known better regarding the offence, said Ms Fitzparick.
Ms Fitzpatrick concluded by saying that her client had been of some assistance to the gardaí, even though the reason he initially gave them for not remaining at the scene contradicted what actually happened.
Judge Keenan Johnson recapitulated that the appellant had been guilty of hit and run and failing to give information.
He had rear-ended a vehicle and stopped to inquire about the woman, but he knew he had rear-ended her before he drove off.
The district court had imposed a one month prison sentence and disqualified him from driving for one year, but now at the age of 64 he was in poor health.
Judge Johnson noted that the accused had insurance and the woman whose vehicle he had rear-ended had been compensated.
Judge Johnson said the appellant was not fit to hold a driving licence, but justice would not be served by sending him to jail.
Imposing a three-year driving disqualification, the judge lifted the prison sentence.
He imposed a two-month sentence, suspended for two years on condition the appellant enter a peace bond of €500.