A 28-year-old man led gardaí on a high speed chase across the county driving on the wrong side of the road in wet and foggy conditions, with sparks and debris flying off the car after it lost a tyre, in what Judge Keenan Johnson described as one of the worst cases of dangerous driving to come before the court.
Detective Garda Michael O’Donovan said that it “was the work of God” that Thomas Connors (28), Bunclody, Wexford, didn’t kill someone in the early hours of January 10 this year, when he drove his car from Portlaoise to Togher in such a dangerous manner the car started falling apart on the road in a shower of sparks.
During a 30 minute chase across the county, Connors drove at high speed through numerous roundabouts without indicating and forced other motorists to take evasive action as he drove on the wrong side of the road.
At one point, the Toyota he was driving lost a tyre, but he continued to drive erratically at high speed with sparks flying, forcing the gardaí to drive behind him using the patrol car as a shield to prevent other cars being hit by debris flying off the vehicle.
After he finally crashed the Toyota into a barrier at Togher, Connors fled the scene and went on to steal another car from Abbeyleix in order to drive home to Wexford.
The court heard that he had taken D10 tablets and consumed cans of Guinness on the night of the chase.
“It was the work of God he didn’t cause a death, he was absolutely all over the road, I’ve never seen a car like it,” Det O’Donovan told the recent circuit court.
Connors had 109 previous convictions.
In ruling, Judge Keenan Johnson described it as: “One of the worst cases of dangerous driving ever before the court. It’s an absolute miracle no one was injured or killed. A car is a dangerous weapon in the hands of someone like the accused.”
Saying that the court needed to send out a clear message to deter others from engaging in the same behaviour, Judge Johnson sentenced the accused to a total of six and a half years, with the last year suspended for three years on condition the accused enter a peace bond.
Judge Johnson also said that the accused was not a fit person to hold a driving licence, and disqualified him from driving for 40 years.
For a full report, see next week’s Leinster Express.