Banned Letterkenny driver caught behind the wheel is jailed

May 18, 2024

A Donegal man caught behind the wheel of a car while banned from driving has had a suspended sentence triggered.

Shane McNulty has been jailed for three months and put off the road for seven years.

McNulty was detected driving on Pearse Road, Letterkenny while he was supposed to be serving a six-year ban.

The previous ban was imposed alongside a five-month prison sentence, which was suspended.

However, when McNulty, a 30-year-old with an address at Ard Adhamhnian, Sallaghraine, Letterkenny, appeared at Falcarragh District Court, Judge Éiteáin Cunningham put McNulty behind bars for three months.

McNulty was charged with driving without insurance and driving without a driving licence at Pearse Road, Letterkenny.

His solicitor, Mr Frank Dorrian, said it was at the discretion of the court not to trigger the suspended sentence.

He said his client presents with a “significant scar to the top of the head in circumstances where he had his skull removed for the purpose of dealing with a brain injury”.

McNulty, Mr Dorrian said, had three blood clots on his brain and his motor senses and fluency have been affected.

“I don’t say that his cognition was damaged to the extent that he couldn’t understand what he was doing,” Mr Dorrian said.

The solicitor said that his client managed to secure insurance while he was disqualified and he felt that this “in some way insulated him from the rigours of the Road Traffic Act”.

Mr Dorrian said: “That is, in ordinary circumstances, completely ridiculous, but in this case he tells me that is where he was at.”

Mr Dorrian said that McNulty is now in a permanent relationship with a young lady and both plan to emigrate.

He said McNulty’s partner was in a “medical difficulty” and he felt “it abetter to proceed” on the day in question.

McNulty was put in the witness box by his solicitor. He said he understood that he was driving while he was banned and that the court imposed a five-month suspended sentence as a warning.

“I realise that now, yes,” he said.

Asked what he was thinking, McNulty said: “At the time, it never crossed my mind. I never thought to be honest.”

McNulty told the court that he has been in recovery just over a year and has been substance free in that time. He said he is attending AA and NA meetings and is also attending after care.

McNulty told his solicitor that he now realised that he will not be driving a vehicle for at least six years.

“You can’t even drive a fire brigade to a burning building,” Mr Dorrian told McNulty.

The defendant said he currently works two jobs, but will lose those as he will have no means of getting there.

On the charge of driving without insurance, McNulty was convicted and sentenced to three months in prison while a charge of driving without a licence was marked as taken into consideration.

McNulty was also disqualified from driving for seven years.

Regarding the suspended sentence, Judge Cunningham said she would use discretion in invoking it by reducing it to three months.

That sentence is to run concurrently to the other three-month sentence.

Judge Cunningham said the court was mindful of McNulty’s plight and the significant brain injury he suffered.

“Against that, the matter was before the court very recently and it was explained,” Judge Cunningham said.

“I do appreciate his vulnerabilities, but that is the most appropriate course at this time. It is important to note that, where sentences are handed down and there are further breaches in terms of further offences, the court will be minded to invoke that sentence.”