A DONEGAL man has been jailed following an incident in which a fire engine was stolen.

Alan Thompson (34) was jailed for a total of 18 months after appearing at Letterkenny District Court on charges relating to two separate incidents.

A fire engine containing €35,000 of life-saving equipment, was stolen from Stranorlar Fire Station on April 3, 2017.

The fire engine was recovered in a forest at Meenagolan, Ballybofey, but was missing some of its equipment. During a follow-up search of Thompson’s home at 533 The Curragh, Killygordon, €800 worth of equipment was recovered.

Thompson has been in custody at the Midlands Prison for the last seven weeks and tendered a plea.

“It could have had catastrophic consequences has the service been required and the equipment not been available,” Judge Paul Kelly said.

“This equipment could have been vital in a life-threatening situation and this is a man who fled the jurisdiction in order to avoid being accountable for his actions.”

Judge Kelly sentenced Thompson to six months imprisonment, back-dating the sentence to June 29.

In a separate incident, on November 1, 2019, Thompson was charged with dangerous driving after evading a checkpoint at Cloghfin

Sergeant Jim Collins told the court that Gardaí were setting up a checkpoint when a jeep passed onto a nearby bridge. Spotting a PSNI checkpoint on the other side, the jeep began to reverse, mounting a kerb to avoid a Garda patrol car and an unmarked Garda car.

Officers present identified Thompson as the driver of the jeep. Thompson took off at speed, passing through various town lands, crossing the white line on a number of occasions. Gardaí pursued Thompson, who was travelling at speeds in excess of 120km/h on secondary roads governed by 80km/h limits.

Sensing that the chase was becoming unsafe, Gardaí pulled back from the pursuit before Thompson crossed the border into Northern Ireland at Alt Upper, some 16km later.

Thompson has a number of previous convictions and in 2010 was given a 20-year driving ban. following a hit-and-run incident.

Solicitor for Thompson, Mr Patsy Gallagher said his client was a 34-year-old father of a three-month old child.

“He realised that he shouldn’t have been driving at all and he fully accepts the difficulty he is in,” Mr Gallagher said. “He wishes to put an end and draw a line in the sand. He is anxious for this to be dealt with as delicately as possible as he wishes to get back to his family to get on with his life.

“He will not be driving for a very long time and he has made peace with that.”

Judge Kelly said Thompson had driven in a ‘shocking manner’.

“The reason he was so determined was because of his previous record,” Judge Kelly said. “He was driving while serving a lengthy disqualification.”

Judge Kelly imposed a six-month sentence on two counts of dangerous driving during the pursuit. These sentences are to run concurrently and are back-dated to May 16 and disqualified Thompson for five years.

 


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