Motorist with 'beyond appalling' record not taking it seriously

Motorist with 'beyond appalling' record not taking it seriously

A bench warrant has been issued for a man with a criminal record “beyond appalling” who has failed to complete community service for motoring offences.

At last week’s Portlaoise District Court, the probation service brought an application against Keith Stapleton, formerly with a listed address in Tipperary.

The accused was previously convicted at the district court on December 15, 2016, of driving without a licence or insurance, and giving a false name to the gardaí, at Tintore, Ballacolla, on November 30, 2016.

When the case first came before the court back in 2016, defence, Ms Ann Manning admitted her client’s record was “beyond appalling”.

She said her client lived in Tipperary and worked in Abbeyleix, travelling to work with a colleague who lives in Thurles.

On the day of the offence, his work colleague wasn’t travelling and the accused had to accompany his pregnant wife to hospital for a scan.

He made the absolutely foolish decision to drive, said defence, and took fright when confronted by the gardaí.

Saying that the accused came before the court “with the worst record”, Ms Manning admitted that his behaviour made no sense on the night.

Judge Staines noted that the accused had been given two suspended sentences before, to which Ms Manning said her client had been physically sick that morning outside the court, so worried was he as to what he was facing.

Addressing the judge himself, the accused said he panicked on the night as he feared losing his job.

Said Ms Manning: “He’s brought this completely on his own head, but I think the penny has dropped.”

Judge Staines disqualified the accused from driving for six years, and imposed 240 hours’ community service in lieu of six months in prison.

“Drive again and you will go to prison,” she warned the accused in December, 2016.

When the matter returned to the district court last week, a probation officer gave evidence that the accused still had 214 hours’ community service to complete of the total 240 hours imposed.

Two warning letters were sent to the accused and on November 16, 2017, an extension of time was granted for the accused to complete the work, but he was no longer living at his listed address.

The probation officer said that the accused had been living in Tipperary and he then returned to Dublin, where he contacted the probation service saying he would do the work in Dublin.

Defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client was not present in court.

She said he was gainfully employed in England, but would return to Ireland to complete the community service.

The probation officer expressed his doubt over this, saying that something similar happened last year with the accused claiming he was working in a shop.

Ms Fitzpatrick replied that on that occasion there was no proof from the accused’s employer, but the accused’s current employer was aware of the situation and would grant the accused leave to return.

Judge Staines noted that the accused had a number of convictions for driving with no insurance and had been driving while disqualified, and he should have gone to prison.

He was given an opportunity, letters were sent to him and he was granted an extension of time, said Judge Staines.

Saying that the accused had not taken the matter seriously, the judge issued a bench warrant for the accused’s arrest.