A couple who were allegedly involved in the hi-jacking of a pizza delivery car and then drove it to Donegal on one of the busiest weekends of the year have been jailed for two months each.
Seamus Donaghey and Bridget Mongan appeared at Letterkenny District Court following the incident on June 16th last.
The pair were stopped by Gardai in the van at Manorcunningham on ‘Rally Weekend’ when dozens of extra Gardai had been deployed into the county for the Donegal International Rally.
“They couldn’t have picked a busier weekend to have been caught,” said the pair’s solicitor, Mr Patsy Gallagher.
He said that if they had not been stopped at the first checkpoint, they would have been stopped at three other checkpoints after that.
The court was previously told that a call was made to a takeaway delivery person in Derry.
When the person came to the appointed address to deliver the food, they arrived at a derelict address.
The vehicle was ‘forcibly’ seized from the driver. The car, a black Ford Focus, fled the scene but was detected in Donegal a short time later and the two were arrested when stopped on the N13 at Raymoghey, Manorcunningham after what was described as a ‘short pursuit’.
Donaghey, a 31-year-old whose address was given as no fixed abode, and Mongan, aged 33 and of Foyle Road, Derry, have spent the past two months in custody since their arrests.
Having consulted with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter, Judge Ciaran Liddy was told he could deal with the charges before the court.
Donaghey was charged with unlawfully using a vehicle without the consent of the owner.
Mongan was charged with, while being a person who knew that the vehicle was taken without the consent of the owner, did allow herself to be carried in the vehicle without consent. Morgan was on bail from charges in Northern Ireland.
Their solicitor said that neither of the accused had previous convictions of any kind.
Mr Gallagher said that Donaghey will also be presenting himself to officers at Strand Road Police Station in Derry at the first opportunity.
He said Donaghey was a separated father-of-two who had a lot of difficulty with addictions in the past and was intoxicated on the night in question.
Ms Mongan has had her only issues but was supported fully by her family who have been in contact with her on a weekly basis since she went into custody.
Mr Gallagher added that she has been under the care of various agencies in the North but met Donaghey on the night and they both decided to go to Letterkenny for whatever reason.
He added that Mongan said she was unaware that the car belonged to somebody else.
Mr Gallagher said that taking all the factors into account including the fact that the pair was intoxicated and the time already served, he asked the court to be as lenient as possible.
Passing sentence, Judge Liddy said that if the matter was to be contested there would be the issue of bringing the PSNI as well as patrons to court and there would have been a certain amount of expense involved.
The accused pair also have no previous convictions adding that their exploits were always “doomed to fail” noting the amount of Gardai about because of the rally taking place.
He sentenced both to two months in prison on each charge but also issued them with credit for the time they have since spent in prison meaning both walked free from custody.