A FALCARRAGH teenager has been jailed for 18 months and banned from driving for six years after incidents described in Court as being ‘like the Wild West’.
Eamon Duggan (18) of Ballina, Falcarragh, was before Letterkenny District Court on six motoring charges relating to offences on February 14, 2021 and also on charges relating to two dates in December 2019.
Judge Paul Kelly activated previously suspended sentences that were imposed on Duggan in October, 2020 when he appeared on 25 separate charges, including 13 of dangerous driving.
Gardaí outlined that a number of parents presented to Falcarragh Garda Station on February 14, 2021 and stated that their daughters had been out all night in a vehicle driven by Duggan. After a search of the area, a blue VW Passat was located and seized by Gardaí.
It was alleged that Duggan, who was accompanied by another male, had collected three female juveniles at different addresses between 2am and 3.30am on the date in question. At approximately 6.30am, Duggan dropped his passengers home.
One of the parents alleged that her daughter was ‘highly intoxicated’ she she arrived home,.
Duggan presented to Falcarragh Garda Station, in the company of his father, on February 15, 2021.
Duggan nominated the name of another male as the driver of the vehicle. Garda enquires established that no such person existed.
The accused told Gardaí that he was a passenger in the vehicle and nominated a second male, who denied that he was the driver when interviewed. The passengers all indicated to Gardaí that Duggan was the driver of the car.
On December 15, 2019, Gardaí were on mobile patrol when they observed a scrambler bike, being driven by Duggan, approaching from a side road.
Officers activated the blue lights before Diggan proceeded to reverse and take off at speed. Gardaí demanded the production of documents, which he failed to do.
On December 21, 2019, at East Town, Tory Island, Duggan was observed driving a vehicle by a resident.
Solicitor Mr Patsy Gallagher said: “This was like something from the Wild West, pulling off on the scrambler bike, like something from TV. The reality is that he lived in a twilight world, but he has had a wake-up call.
“To say that he is terrified would be an understatement and he now realises the difficulty he finds himself in.
“Someone will be killed if this continues – it’s as simple and as blunt as that. I do believe that the now understands that.
“He was in Castlerea for the last week and there are more hardened parties in those four walls and it’s not like the comfort of a community in rural Donegal, where you get that comfort even in wrong doing. Being in Castlerea has had a profound effect on him.”
Mr Gallagher admitted that the new charges were a ‘slap to the face of court and the public at large’. He asked the court to give Duggan a chance at rehabilitation.
Duggan, dressed in a black jacket and grey tracksuit bottoms, addressed the Court.
He told Judge Paul Kelly that the past week in Castlerea had been an eye-opening experience.
Duggan said: “I can’t even word it. It was unbelievable, like. I stayed awake at night. The ones across were shouting over and they seemed to know everything about me. I didn’t even go out to the yard, there were so many people out there.”
Duggan said his actions were borne out of ‘my own stupidity’ and served as an attempt to ‘feel cool’.
“Definitely not after that experience could I sit behind the wheel of a car again,” he said.
Sergeant Jim Collins aid that Duggan was given a chance in October 2020 and he was back driving again less than six months later. Sergeant Collins suggested that the temptation to drive would always be there.
Judge Kelly said that Duggan ‘cut a pitiful figure’ and was clearly ‘very deeply effected’.
However, the Judge said: “I am appalled at the contents of the probation report. He told the Probation Service that he had better things to be doing.
“It seems as if he has learned absolutely nothing.
“He has written a very eloquent letter, but it bears an uncanny resemblance to the one he wrote after his previous period in custody.”
Judge Kelly said he had no option but to activate the sentences, totalling 16 months, which were deferred in October.
“I have no doubt in my mind that if walks out of here, he would be behind the wheel of a car again,” Judge Kelly said,
“I would be failing in my duty to the community in Falcarragh if I didn’t do this.”
Judge Kelly sentenced Duggan to two months in prison for one of the no insurance charges from February 14, 2021, the sentence to run consecutively. A six-year disqualification was also imposed, with the other February 14 charges marked into consideration. The charges from December 2019 were also marked taken into consideration by Judge Kelly.
Recognisance for any appeal was set on Duggan’s own bond of €250 and an independent surety of €750.