Abbeyleix man given jail for third drink driving

An Abbeyleix man who was living out of his car after losing his house was last week sentenced to prison for his third drink driving conviction.

Judge Catherine Staines said she had every sympathy for Kenneth Swayne, of Tonduff, Abbeyleix, but as he had endangered people’s lives with his actions she had to impose jail time.

At the district court, Swayne was charged with exceeding the alcohol limit at Jessop Street, Portlaoise, on April 8.

Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that Swayne was stopped by gardaí at 1.30pm and brought to Portlaoise Garda Station, where an intoxilyser reading showed he had 56mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

He had two previous convictions for the same offence, the most recent being February 6 this year when he was given a suspended six-month sentence and disqualified from driving for four years.

Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said Swayne had been living out of his car at various locations after losing his house.

He had slept in the car the night before the offence and took a short journey to a filling station on April 8, during which he was detected by gardaí.

“He thought he was all right to drive, but obviously wasn’t,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.

Defence went on to say that Swayne did not inform his family of the difficulties he was in. The loss of his house led to the offending for which he was given the suspended sentence in February, and Ms Fitzpatrick said her client knew he was now facing a prison sentence.

“In his own words, he has ‘copped on now’,” said Ms Fitzpatrick, adding that Swayne is on a waiting list for Coote Street addiction services.

Defence concluded by saying that Swayne had an opportunity with Respond! Housing Association, an opportunity he might lose if he was sentenced.

However, Judge Staines said that all the mitigation outlined by Ms Fitzpatrick was the reason she had given Swayne a suspended sentence in February, and less that two months later he was drink driving again.

The judge imposed two four-month sentences, concurrent, and disqualified Swayne from driving for six years.

Recognisance was fixed for Swayne to lodge an appeal.


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