Garda car struck in high speed pursuit

A 20-year-old man who collided with a garda car following a high speed chase during which he drove on the wrong side of the road and narrowly avoided hitting pedestrians was last week sentenced to ten months in prison and disqualified from driving for eight years.

A 20-year-old man who collided with a garda car following a high speed chase during which he drove on the wrong side of the road and narrowly avoided hitting pedestrians was last week sentenced to ten months in prison and disqualified from driving for eight years.

The local district court heard that on three occasions other vehicles had to leave the road to avoid being struck, as the man drove at speeds of up to 140km/h through villages and towns.

Martin McDonagh, of 52 The Green, Ballymacool, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, was charged with ten counts of dangerous driving, at various locations in Clara, Tullamore and Co. Offaly, and one count of having no insurance, at Ballyduff, Tullamore, on October 15 last year.

Evidence was given to Portlaoise District Court by Garda Liam Lonergan.

The gardaí received a report of thefts and burglaries having been committed across Offaly and Westmeath, in which a motor car was sighted. Garda Lonergan said that he and a fellow garda spotted the car passing by and signalled it to stop, which it did. As Garda Lonergan approached, the driver of the other vehicle accelerated away at high speed, forcing Garda Lonergan and his fellow garda to take evasive action to avoid being hit.

Garda Lonergan said that McDonagh drove at extensive speed for some 27km of road, and on a number of occasions he drove his vehicle on the wrong side. His driving three times caused other motorists to leave the road, and he overtook other cars at extensive speed, well up to 140km/h at times.

The garda went on to say that there were people on the road in Clara village who McDonagh just managed to avoid, before he went through a double stop sign and took a blind bend on the wrong side of the road.

Travelling at 120km/h McDonagh came to a roundabout, where he collided with a garda patrol car. One of the gardaí in this vehicle sustained soft tissue damage in the collision. McDonagh was finally arrested, and found to have no insurance.

20-year-old McDonagh had 41 previous convictions.

He was in custody on this matter since October 16, and has since been given a four-month sentence on other matters.

On one of the dangerous driving charges, Judge Catherine Staines imposed a six-month sentence and disqualified McDonagh from driving for four years, and for the no insurance charge the judge imposed a four month sentence, to run consecutive to the six months.

This brings the total to ten months’ detention.

All other charges were taken into consideration, and Judge Staines imposed five driving disqualifications of eight years, two six-year disqualifications, a four-year ban, and a ban of two years.

Judge Staines fixed recognisance in the event of an appeal.