Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay
A 48-year-old man who described racing away from the gardaí at speeds of up 200km/h on the busy Cork to Dublin M8 motorway as just “a reflexive response” after he got “a fright”, has been disqualified from driving for six months at Portlaoise District Court.
Andrew Montague (48), 29 Charleville Avenue, North Strand, Dublin 3, was charged with dangerous driving, and driving without a licence, at the M8 Springfield, Ballacolla, on November 4, 2020. The dangerous driving charge was subsequently reduced to one of careless driving.
Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on November 4 last, a garda speed check clocked the accused driving at 142km/h in a 120km/h zone. When he saw the gardaí he accelerated and fled the scene, travelling up to 200km/h while the patrol car followed with its lights flashing. When he was eventually stopped, gardaí discovered he was driving on a learner's permit unaccompanied and had been driving on the permit for 20 years.
The accused had two previous convictions.
Defending himself in court, Mr Montague said that he works as a psychotherapist in Dublin. On the day in question, he had been heading back to Cork after a long day when he saw the flashing lights behind him and his response was a moment of panic.
“I got a fright and didn't stop,” he said, describing it as “a reflexive response”.
“When I did come to my senses and stopped, I fully complied with the gardaí,” he said.
Judge Staines asked why had he been driving unaccompanied, to which the accused replied that he had been reluctant to take public transport.
Judge Staines then asked why had he been on a learner's permit for 20 years and not passed his test. The accused replied that he passed it at 18, but then moved to the UK and did not transfer his licence over. He then subsequently failed the test twice, he said.
He concluded by saying that he had reconsidered things and was now taking the train once a week.
Saying there was a mandatory disqualification of two years if convicted of dangerous driving, Judge Staines asked would the State accept a reduction to careless driving.
Sgt Kirby replied that the State would be very concerned about the speed the accused had driven at.
However, after consulting with the investigating garda, Sgt Kirby said the State would accept the reduction to the lesser charge of careless driving.
Judge Staines said the accused had been driving at “an outrageous speed”, however she noted that he had no previous convictions for offences of this nature and had pleaded guilty.
She convicted and fined the accused €200 and disqualified him from driving for six months, with the disqualification postponed to May 2, 2021.
Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.