A young Letterkenny man went on a driving rampage forcing toddlers, students and Gardai to dive for cover to escape being run over.

Martin McClelland, 24, drove for more than 20 kilometres after stealing a car in Doochary reaching speeds of up to 130kph as he tried to shake off Gardai.

McClelland was spotted by Gardai who pursued him in horrific weather conditions across Fintown and into Glenties on June 8th last.

Milford District Court was told that McClelland of 36 Manor View, Letterkenny passed dozens of motorists on continuous white lines putting many other drivers in danger.

Many other drivers coming in the opposite direction were forced to swerve to avoid him and he swerved across both sides of the road with his hazard lights on.

McClelland drove into the busy town of Glenties at 125kph as dozens of students were travelling to schools for the first day of their Leaving Cert Examinations

He then travelled on at the Glen Road at 8.25am at speeds of up to 90kph past a crèche where parents were leaving toddlers off to playschool.

Gardai, who had set up a checkpoint in a bid to stop the manic motorist, also had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit after McClelland continued at break-neck speeds.

A couple of minutes later he lost control of the car and ended up in a ditch. He escaped on foot but was captured by pursuing Gardai.

When brought to the local Garda station in Glenties, it was discovered that McClelland was not under the influence of either drink or drugs.

Solicitor Patsy Gallagher said he was convinced that his client was suffering from an undiagnosed disorder.

“This is an appalling case and it is difficult to comprehend what went on in his mind and why this stupidity occurred.

“There so easily could have been a loss of life here and he knows that now. I think he is labouring under an addiction of some sort but he has never been diagnosed.

“I would ask the judge to give him a chance so that his behaviour can be looked into,” he said.

However Judge Paul Kelly said that while he appreciated Mr Gallagher’s concerns, McClelland’s behaviour was inexcusable.

He said “This is one of the most appalling cases I have come across on my short time on the bench – a catalogue of appalling driving and is somewhat incredulous that nobody was injured.

“He was driving in appalling conditions at 130kph and that cannot be condoned. I have to protect the public.

“It was by sheer luck that nobody injured following what were numerous incidents of evasive action – driving past two schools, pedestrians and failing to stop at a Garda checkpoint. He put a large number of vehicles and people in serious danger.”

He sentenced McClelland to six months imprisonment for dangerous driving, fined him €350 for failing to stop for Gardai and took a number of other charges into consideration.



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