Man who led Gardai on dangerous chase fails to have driving ban quashed

May 16, 2023

A man has failed in his bid to have a driving ban quashed after leading Gardai on a high-speed chase in Ballybofey.

Ronan McHugh, of Third Corgary Road, Castlederg, appealed the two-year disqualification handed to him.

At Letterkenny Circuit Court today, Judge John Aylmer upheld the decision of the District Court to put McHugh off the road for two years.

Detective Garda Connaughton and Garda Hennigan were on patrol at midnight on May 5, 2021 when they became suspicious of a Toyota Hilux, which was engaged with three youths on the forecourt of a service station at Donegal Road, Ballybofey.

The Gardai returned to the scene and when the blue lights were activated McHugh drove off at speed. McHugh hit a speed in excess of 100km/h, in an area governed by a 50km/h speed limit at Trusk Road.

Sergeant Jim Collins told the court that McHugh almost lost control after taking a sharp left turn.

At Sessiaghoneill, McHugh travelled at speeds in excess of 100km/h in an area governed by a 60km/h speed limit.

After almost losing control again, the vehicle stalled and McHugh got out. He told Gardai that he was drinking earlier in the night and ‘panicked’.

A subsequent breath test showed that McHugh was under the limit. Sergeant Collins said the accused was ‘apologetic and co-operative’ when apprehended.

On three charges of dangerous driving, Judge Sandra Murphy previously handed down a €250 fine and disqualified McHugh for two years.

Solicitor for McHugh, Mr Patsy Gallagher, applied for a reduction to careless driving and said the licence was ‘of great importance’ to his client.

“He fully accepts his actions,” Mr Gallagher said. “This young man made one silly mistake when he was 25. He is a hard-working young man, who is doing an apprenticeship.”

Judge Aylmer said that the case was well above the threshold for a reduction of the charges.

“This was appalling, dangerous driving at very excessive speeds and a near loss of control,” Judge Aylmer said. “I am quite happy to deal with borderline cases, but this is well beyond the threshold.”


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