A PORTLAOISE man who was found to be more than four times over the limit after he struck another vehicle on the motorway has been fined and disqualified from driving, with Judge Catherine Staines warning him he had just avoided a prison sentence and was lucky not to be before the court on far more serious charges.
Derek Melia, 14 Colliers View, Portlaoise, faced four counts of hit and run, a charge of dangerous driving, and a charge of drink driving, at the M7, Mayfield, Monasterevin, on April 30 last year.
Inspector Martin Harrington gave evidence that Melia was attempting to overtake when he struck the other car from the rear, causing €500 damage. He failed to stop and had to be arrested. At the garda station, he was discovered to have a reading of 291mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine.
Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick, admitted that these were very serious matters.
“He wasn’t aware he collided with the car,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
Ms Fitzpatrick went on to say that Melia acknowledges he has a drink problem and has been engaging with a psychologist. She said that the injured party has been compensated in full through the insurance company, and she asked Judge Staines to consider postponing her client’s road ban to allow him to put his affairs in order.
Judge Staines said that Melia was very fortunate he was not before the court on more serious charges.
“These are very serious matters and I have to consider a custodial sentence,” she said.
However, the judge imposed fines and a driving ban instead, warning Melia that this sort of thing can never happen again.
On the drink driving charge, Melia was fined €300 and disqualified from driving for three years; for dangerous driving, he was fined €300 and disqualified for two years; for failing to report the accident, he was fined €200.
All other matters were taken into consideration. The judge ruled that, due to the high alcohol reading, she would not postpone the disqualification.