A Mountmellick man dressed as if to commit a burglary who tried to escape the gardaí by driving at speed through three counties while under the influence of drugs has been sentenced to eight months in jail.
Imposing the sentence at last week’s sitting of Portlaoise District Court, Judge Catherine Staines said that Mark Kelly (30), College Avenue, Mountmellick, could have killed a young child with his actions. The judge also noted that he had an appalling criminal record.
Kelly was charged with offences including dangerous driving, drink driving, and driving without a licence or insurance.
Inspector Aidan Farrelly gave evidence that on March 13 this year, a vehicle approached a checkpoint in Mountmellick at high speed. It drove through the checkpoint narrowly missing two gardaí, and a patrol car gave chase.
The gardaí had to chase the car through three counties, Laois, Offaly and Kildare, with the accused driving through stop signs. He eventually crashed the car into a wall and a short chase on foot ensued, with the accused violently resisting arrest and having to be restrained.
The accused was wearing tights over his head with two eyeholes cut in them, and a hammer was found in the car.
He later provided a urine sample which tested positive for drugs.
The accused had 31 previous convictions, including assaults and robbery.
Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client was no stranger to the prison system, after losing his job years ago and starting using drugs.
She said he has since self-referred to Merchants Quay, and was hoping to get a bed for residential treatment in five to six weeks’ time.
She said he had completed a self-detox from heroin and was asking for a few weeks to see if could secure the bed.
However, Judge Catherine Staines said the accused had been driving uninsured while under the influence of an intoxicant, wearing clothing and in possession of a hammer which suggested he was going to commit a theft or burglary.
She said he had been driving very dangerously and almost hit two gardaí, before he crashed.
“He could have killed somebody, he could have killed a young child,” said Judge Staines, adding that he had an appalling list of criminal convictions.
The judge imposed a six-month sentence, with recognisance fixed in the event of an appeal. She directed that if a place became available for treatment, the accused could ask the governor of the prison to consider a temporary release.
Ms Fitzpatrick asked the court to consider not imposing the sentence for four weeks, but Judge Staines replied that the offences were appalling and she would not change her order.