A Donegal man, who led Gardai on an ‘extraordinary’ 22 kilometre high-speed pursuit faces prison, a District Court Judge has said.
Danny McBride, from Carrigart, appeared at Letterkenny District Court charged with 18 counts of dangerous driving following the chase between Kilmacrennan and Carrigart, which saw the defendant drive through junctions with the lights off at high speed.
Garda O’Riordan spotted a white Volkswagen Caddy near Abbey Village, Kilmacrennan and activated the lights and siren. The van came to a stop before speeding off.
Inspector Sean Grant said the vehicle drove through a stop sign and travelled through Kilmacrennan village at a speed in excess of 90 km/h.
“The vehicle was going up to 100km/h in a 50km/h zone and was on both sides of the road,” he said.
The court heard how the vehicle entered a junction on the wrong side before rounding two left-hand bends ‘completely on the wrong sid of the road’.
“As he drove up the road, he clipped ditches and was driving very erratically,” Inspector Grant said.
“The vehicle swerved left and just about avoided a collision with an oncoming car. At Barnes Lower, Termon, it was all over the road. He drove over the blow of a blind hill on the wrong side.”
Inspector Grant said the vehicle traveled through multiple town lands at speeds in excess of 120km/h.
“The vehicle was bouncing and sparks were flying from under it,” he said. “Some debris came off and hit the windscreen of the patrol car.”
After traveling on the road for around four miles, the driver of the vehicle turned off the lights and went through a junction without stopping.
Inspector Grant detailed how the vehicle sped through Glen village at more than 100 km/ph before overtaking a taxi.
On the main Carrigart to Creeslough road, the vehicle again broke a stop sign and turned the lights off.
“More debris came off as he accelerated towards Carrigart,” Inspector Grant said.
“He went down past the Garda station in Carrigart still on the wrong side of the road. He turned right, slammed on the brakes at Gortnabrade and abandoned the vehicle, getting out on and making off on foot.”
Gardai followed McBride, who entered a house, but could not find him. Gardai arrested McBride some time later and charged him with 18 counts of dangerous driving.
“One bad idea followed another,” solicitor for McBride, Mr Frank Dorrian, said.
“This man is 31 and has no previous. This was one continuous act. One vehicle was encountered and navigated. It was lucky that there was no accident.
“The circumstances were reckless and without heed as he continued the endeavour. The basis for his departure was that he believed himself to be impaired as he had been drinking.
“The deviation from his ordinary standard of behaviour is quite spectacular. He apologises as profoundly as he can. It was unacceptable on any level. He has read an account and finds it hard to believe that this was he.”
Mr Dorrian submitted character references for McBride which, he said, ‘reflected a change in lifestyle and attitude’.
Judge Paul Kelly said it was an ‘extraordinary pursuit’.
“The display of driving and the distance makes it impossible to deal with in any way other than a custodial sentence,” Judge Kelly said.
“He could have stopped at any time. I fail to understand why he didn’t. The car was bouncing off the round, sparks were flying, he was clipping ditches. Even when he stopped, he eluded pursuit.”
Judge Kelly adjourned the case to June 21 next and ordered a probation report as he ‘explores possible alternatives’ in the case.