A young Carndonagh man, who was three times over the drink driving limit when he crashed his van after a high-speed Garda chase, has been warned by a judge that he’s facing a prison sentence.
Dean Doherty, of Galwilly, Carn, was charged with dangerous driving at Cullineen, Redcastle and Drung, Quigley’s Point, on April 13, last.
He was also charged with drink driving, driving without a licence and insurance at Gortnashade, Quigley’s Point on the same date when he appeared before Carndonagh District Court.
The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to all charges when he appeared before the court, which was sitting in Buncrana.
Garda Inspector Denis Joyce told the court that Gardaí were conducting a MIT [Mandatory intoxication testing] checkpoint near Redcastle when Garda Tully stopped Mr. Doherty, who was driving a Ford Transit van, at 1.44am.
He said Doherty failed a roadside breath test and was asked to pull in off the road, but instead he accelerated and drove off.
“He drove along the road then took a sharp left turn to a minor road,” Insp. Joyce outlined.
“This was an extremely narrow road and Mr Doherty went straight out at a T junction while continue to drive at high speed – around 120km per hour on a minor, narrow road.”
Insp. Joyce said the chase went on between 16 and 20 minutes with Doherty going round a blind corner, without slowing or stopping.
“Garda Tully lost sight of the vehicle but as they continued along the road they came across a female standing at the side of the road,” said Insp. Joyce.
“She had been a passenger in Mr. Doherty’s van and they discovered that the van had left the road and ended up in a stream under a bridge. The van was upright under the bridge. They then saw Mr. Doherty standing in a field nearby. He was not injured, thankfully no one was injured.”
The court heard that upon arrest Doherty admitted he had no licence or insurance and a subsequent breath alcohol test at Buncrana Garda Station revealed a breath alcohol concentration of 62mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.
Insp. Joyce said Doherty was processed as a specified driver, because he had no licence, which has a drink driving limit of 9mg of alcohol.
He also stated that Doherty had been fined €250 in Carn Court in 2017 for having no insurance but had not been disqualified from driving as it was his first offence.
Defence solicitor Ray Lannon told the court that his client worked as a plasterer in Dublin and had been saving for insurance after he was quoted €3,400 for cover.
He said on the night in question he had been going to the Bailey with friends, and had two passengers on board the van with him.
“When he was stopped at the checkpoint he panicked and left the scene,” Mr. Lannon said.
“We are fortunate that no one was injured – my client made a bad situation worse and he is lucky he’s not injured. He does now have an insight into the manner of his driving and the situation he found himself in.”
Mr. Lannon said Doherty indicated on the first occasion that he wanted to plead guilty and in the meantime he completed the prosocial driving course in Donegal Town and Cavan.
“He says the course was an eye-opener and he will never ever drink and drive again,” said Mr. Lannon.
“He is working hard and earns €500 a week in Dublin and gets a lift up and down to
Dublin with a contractor from Carn. He’s asking for a chance.”
However Judge Paul Kelly rejected his saying Mr. Doherty ‘had a chance’ when he was not banned from driving in 2017 when he was convicted for having no insurance.
He said cases like this explain why people receive insurance quotes like €3,400.
“It’s no wonder why people receive people receive quotes like that,” said Judge Kelly.
“This case is exactly why people receive those quotes. This type of lunatic driving could cause death or serious injury – we have saw it before. Then it results in insurance claims against someone who has no insurance so the people that do pay insurance then have to pick up the bill.”
He said this was a case ‘undoubtedly a case where a custodial sentence was warranted’, however he said he would adjourn sentencing until he received a community service and probation service report.
“Mr. Doherty got a chance in this court in 2017 so that exacerbates his situation, however, I note that he has pleaded guilty at an early stage and that he has since completed the prosocial driving course so I will take that into account when sentencing,” added Judge Kelly, before adjourning the case until October 15.