A 23-YEAR old Timoleague man who overtook eight cars at a speed of 150 km/h on a Sunday evening last year, in what one garda described as the most serious case of dangerous driving he has ever witnessed, has avoided a disqualification from driving.
Frank Crowley of Ashfield, Skeaf East, Timoleague pleaded not guilty to two charges of dangerous driving at Cashelmore, Bandon and at Madame, Ballinascarthy at a recent sitting of Bandon District Court
Gda Cormac Dineen told the court that he was off duty and driving on the evening of February 28th 2016 at Cashelmore when the defendant’s modified Black BMW came up behind them and overtook him, forcing him to slam on the brakes as there was an oncoming vehicle.
‘I lost track of him until I reached Ballinscarthy and took down his registration plates and rang Clonakilty Garda Station,’ said Gda Dineen. ‘Then at a straight stretch on the Clonakilty side of Ballinascarthy, the defendant overtook eight to 10 vehicles in a row at high speed, all on a continuous white line.
‘ In my 15 years of service as a garda this was the most serious case of dangerous driving that I’ve witnessed and I don’t say that lightly, as the speed was extreme,’ said Gda Dineen.
Solicitor Eamonn Fleming said his client works in construction and has a full Artic licence and would lose his job if he was to receive a disqualification.
When questioned by Mr Fleming as to why he overtook so many vehicles, the defendant said he ‘got frustrated because of the slow moving traffic’.
Angela Crowley, mother of the defendant, gave evidence in court that she and her husband never had any trouble with him before.
‘I was shocked and very surprised when he was charged and I can’t believe what he did and I don’t think he’ll ever do that again,’ said Mrs Crowley.
Mr Fleming said his client has never been in trouble before and works hard.
‘He did it out of frustration and he didn’t hide it,’ said Mr Fleming.
Judge James McNulty remarked that he didn’t hear any great evidence from Angela Crowley of ‘familial disapproval’ and that there was no mention of consequences at home for what he did.
‘There was no scathing commentary at all and it wasn’t a Sunday afternoon drive, because at one point he overtook eight cars at a speed of 150 km/h.
‘I can only imagine that these cars were being driven by people going to church or service on a Sunday evening,’ said Judge McNulty.
Judge McNulty added that he didn’t detect censure or consequences that the defendant might, by his recklessness, have caused injury or death.
Mr Fleming said:‘He is a young man who reacted extremely badly to a situation and there has been no further repeat of it since and in that case he kind of just lost it.’
Judge McNulty directed the defendant to watch the RTÉ documentary ‘Crash’ with his family together, to get a better understanding of the effects of dangerous driving on people.
Following an adjournment of the case, Mr Fleming said his client watched the video with his family and he was frightened by what he saw.
Mr Crowley, whose father and mother attended the court with him, said he watched the DVD and he acknowledged the impact that speed can have on anyone.
Judge McNulty said the court would note mitigating factors such as the defendant’s youth, his immaturity, lack of previous convictions and that no one was injured or died.
‘To convict him on dangerous driving involves a mandatory disqualification which would be catastrophic for his occupation and the court will convict him on the lesser charges of careless driving.’
Judge McNulty said the defendant was probably too young to remember the song Perfect by Eddi Reader, which has the lyrics ‘Young hearts are foolish, they make such mistakes.’
‘That’s what happened here and I’m satisfied he’s learnt his lesson,’ the judge said.
Judge McNulty convicted Mr Crowley on two lesser charges of careless driving and fined him €1,000 and also required him to enter a probation bond of three years of the sum of €1,000, and attached a special condition that he comply at all times with the provisions of the Road Traffic Act.
‘If he breaches these conditions, he can forfeit the bond.To be positive, if he does drive well and behaves over the next three years, he will get his money back,’ added Judge McNulty.