A disqualified driver with 84 previous convictions who mowed down a Garda while drunk and uninsured has walked free from court.
Paul McGillion appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court charged with the endangerment of Garda Michael Kilcoyne.
Garda Kilcoyne had to undergo surgery after the father-of-two drove his Honda car at him in Letterkenny in the early hours of July 25th, 2015.
Breath tests later revealed that McGillion was drunk, was already banned from driving and had no tax, insurance or driving license.
The 32-year-old blamed a combination of stress due to his dying grandmother and the fact that he was preparing for his marriage.
The court heard how McGillion had committed the majority of his offences while living in Northern Ireland.
However, he had tried to turn his life around and was working with medical insurance claims company United Healthcare and had received three internal promotions.
He had not committed any offence since 2011 until he went out socialising with friends after work on the night of July 24th, 2015.
After going home, McGillion, of 1 Greenhills, Manorcunningham, then decided to get his car and drive back to Letterkenny.
He initially evaded Gardai who suspected him of being drunk behind the wheel but after being spotted by Gardai on the town’s CCTV camera system, he was found hiding in his car at Larkin’s Lane.
Garda Marcus O’Dowd told the court that when observed, officers managed to block off both ends of the lane and tried to arrest McGillion.
However, he spun his wheels and drove to get away hitting Garda Kilcoyne in his right upper leg with the right wing of his Honda car.
Garda O’Dwod stood his ground as McGillion drove at him and only slammed on his brakes at the last second.
Garda O’Dowd tried to get the driver out of the car but he locked the doors and had to use his Garda baton to smash the window.
The accused tried to assault him but was restrained, arrested and brought to Letterkenny Garda Station.
A breath test later showed that McGillion had a reading of 47 microgrammes per 100 microgrammes of breath.
Barrister for McGillion, Mr Sean MacAodh said his client had been abandoned by his father at a very young age and was brought up by his mother and grandmother.
He had fallen in with the wrong company and had become addicted to both drink and drugs but had managed to turn his life around.
He had not committed any offences since 2011 until the night in question in July, 2015 after he had consumed alcohol.
Mr MacAodh said it was a combination of a number of stressful factors including his grandmother’s illness and his upcoming wedding which had seen McGillion take to drink again.
The accused man asked if he could address the court and apologised to both Garda O’Dowd and Kilcoyne who were sitting at the rear of the courtroom.
He said his life was “in turmoil” and had tried to turn it around.
“My life was in turmoil and I didn’t care if I lived or died. BUt all that changed when my wife became pregnant with my daughter.
“I apologise to Garda Kilcoyne and O’Dowd for what happened that night. I didn’t intentionally drive towards Garda Kilcoyne. I am ashamed. Everything that was going on and all I wanted to do was to go out and drink and take something else,” he said.
Judge Terence O’Sullivan told the accused that he understood that he made the change in his life but called him a “ticking time-bomb” if this was his attitude when something went wrong in his life.
The Judge said that this was perhaps the trickiest case he had dealt with in many years.
He said there was no question that Garda Kilcoyne was seriously injured and will have to live with those injuries as a result.
He added that if McGillion had not pleaded guilty he would be looking at serving five years in prison.
He said he had shown remorse and had put his previous life behind him to a great extent.
He said he appreciated that the Court of Appeal have been unhappy with the suspension of sentences but said that if he was wrong (in his sentencing), he will be put right.
“I have to try and sentence the offender and not the offence,” he said.
He referred to a medical report on McGillion which suggested that if he stays away from poly substances that he will make a full recovery.
And he added “The issue is should I unravel his life which a prison sentence will do or should I tie his hands.
“If I throw him under the bus I think I will seriously unravel his life and that of his family.”
He imposed a three-year sentence but also suspended the sentence for three years on a number of conditions.
These included that McGillion remain alcohol-free and stay away from poly substances and continue to attend for medical treatment.
He also dealt with a number of driving-related charges.
He disqualified McGillion from driving for five years for dangerous driving and filed him €500, disqualified him for a further four year (concurrent) for drink-driving and a further four-year disqualification of four years (concurrent) for having no insurance.