September 11, 2013

A MOTORIST who rolled a car at high speed and then fled the scene leaving SEVEN passengers behind has been given a suspended prison sentence.



Emlyn O’Donnell pleaded guilty to a litany of offences relating to the horrific incident which happened at 5am on St Stephen’s Day 2011.

O’Donnell had originally been charged with stealing the Renault car which crashed into the Dry Arch Roundabout in Letterkenny.

However the theft charge was withdrawn after his girlfriend Heather McClean withdrew the complaint.

Inspector Michael Harrison told Letterkenny District Court that passengers at the scene initially denied being in the car.

One woman had to be cut from the car by fire crews.

“Witnesses later said that Mr O’Donnell was driving so fast that the car shook,” said Inspector Harrison.

“They were shouting at O’Donnell to slow down but he ignored their pleas.”

The car then “rolled over several times” before landing on its side.

When the emergency services arrived at the scene O’Donnell had fled on foot.

He later presented himself to Gardai in Letterkenny and admitted he was the driver of the car.

“It was an absolute miracle that no-one was killed and no-one was seriously injured,” said Inspector Harrison.

Judge Paul Kelly described O’Donnell as “appalling”.

He jailed O’Donnell for six months for dangerous driving, suspending the sentence for two years.

He added a second consecutive three month sentence for leaving the scene of the crash, also suspending that sentence for two years.

O’Donnell was fined €350 for no insurance, was banned from driving for two years and ordered to take part in a driver behaviour course.

Judge Kelly warned O’Donnell that he wouldn’t walk free from court again if he appeared before him.

Earlier O’Donnell had contested two other charges against him.

He had been accused of assault and robbery of a youth in Letterkenny.

John Paul Morrison identified O’Donnell in court as being the man who attacked  him in Letterkenny in September 2012.

“He came out of nowhere and started choking me with a dog chain and then he started whipping me,” said Mr Morrison.

“He threatened to stab me and my friend with a Stanley knife.”

However other witnesses in the case didn’t appear in court and Judge Kelly said he wasn’t satisfied on the evidence that O’Donnell, who had denied the charges, had carried out the attack.