Garda who dodged car ‘lucky to be alive’

A PORTLAOISE man has been sentenced to a total of ten months in prison for almost running down a garda in his car and then assaulting the garda when the officer tried to arrest him.

A PORTLAOISE man has been sentenced to a total of ten months in prison for almost running down a garda in his car and then assaulting the garda when the officer tried to arrest him.

22-year-old Adam Graham, with addresses listed at 9 Highfield Meadows, Portlaoise, 18 Millbrook, Portlaoise, and 68 Rutland Grove, Crumlin, was charged with driving without insurance and dangerous driving, at Kilnacourt Woods, Portarlington, and assault causing harm at The Sycamores, Kilnacourt Woods, Portarlington, on October 4 last year.

Garda Addhan O’Flaithearta gave evidence that he was part of a garda patrol in Kilnacourt Woods on that date, when he heard a vehicle driving in his direction. Garda O’Flaithearta activated the blue lights on the patrol car and was just about to step out off the car, when the other vehicle swerved onto his side of the road. The garda got out of the way as the car passed and he observed Graham, who was driving, leaping out of the car along with two other passengers while the car was still moving.

Garda O’Flaithearta then pursued Graham on foot, while the car continued on and struck a tree. The garda attempted to arrest Graham, but Graham “violently resisted”.

“I was punched a number of times in the head, chest and back,” said Garda O’Flaithearta. “I was on my own and it lasted a number of minutes.”

The garda went on to tell the court that he subsequently took three days off work following the assault and has been off eight days in total. He said that he has been left with a damaged nerve in his face.

Graham has 21 previous convictions, including three for dangerous driving.

Defence, Ms Lisa Daly said Graham had a cocaine addiction since he was 15, but is now clean of all substances.

“He has no excuse for his behaviour, he was heavily intoxicated, he doesn’t even recognise Garda O’Flaithearta,” said Ms Daly.

Ms Daly said that Graham is “no longer associating with a negative peer group” and he was offering his apologies to the garda.

Ms Daly said that Graham had €400 compensation in court to offer the garda, and she asked Judge Catherine Staines whether she would consider Graham for community service instead of imposing a prison sentence.

“He’s very remorseful of the incident,” said Ms Daly.

However, Judge Staines remarked that this was Graham’s third conviction for dangerous driving and he had been given the opportunity of community service before. The judge also noted that Graham had been driving while disqualified.

“But most serious of all is that he drove at the garda,” said Judge Staines. “Garda O’Flaithearta is lucky to be alive... it was a very serious assault on him.”

On the dangerous driving charge, Judge Staines sentenced Graham to six months and disqualified him from driving for eight years.

For driving without insurance, Graham was sentenced to three months, consecutive, and was disqualified from driving for eight years.

For the assault on Garda O’Flaithearta, Graham was sentenced to ten months, concurrent.

Recognizance was fixed in the event of an appeal, on Graham’s own bond of €100 and an independent cash surety of €200.