10 Aug 2022

Lucky nobody killed in 'crazy speed' race through Laois

A man who drove “at crazy speed” through Laois townlands after racing off from a garda checkpoint has been given a three-month prison sentence.

At Portlaoise District Court, Patrick McDonagh (28), 26 Grange Meadows, Mullingar, was charged with two counts of dangerous driving, at Newtown and Ballypickas, on April 25 last.

Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on April 25, 2019, at the N80 Newtown, a vehicle came to a stop at a garda checkpoint. As the gardaí went to speak to the driver, the vehicle revved up and took off at speed, forcing the gardaí to jump out of the way.

The car then drove “at crazy speed” through townlands and crossroads without stopping, said Sgt Kirby. Sgt Kirby said the accused drove so fast the gardaí had trouble keeping up.

The accused had 14 previous convictions, eight for public order offences and six for road traffic matters.

Defence, Mr Philip Meagher, said the accused was a married man with two children and one more on the way. He said the accused and his wife had received bad news about the pregnancy at the time and the accused had reacted in a very poor fashion as he couldn’t cope with the stress.

The accused left the house for a number of days and went drinking after falling into old company, which culminated in this offence.

Mr Meagher said the car was finally stopped in Carlow and there would be a drink driving charge against his client in that jurisdiction.

Sgt Kirby confirmed that it was a relatively minor reading of 40mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

Defence concluded by saying that the accused had endangered himself, his passengers, the public and the gardaí. He fell into bad company, but has since fully engaged with his wife.

Judge Catherine Staines said the gardaí could have been injured when he sped off and it was a miracle nobody was killed in the incident.

The accused was sentenced to three months in prison and received driving disqualifications of two years and four years.

Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.

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