A CLONAKILTY farmer who engaged in a high speed car chase in West Cork earlier this year showed a ‘reckless disregard for the lives and livelihoods of others,’ a court has heard.
Killian O’Donovan (35) of Ballymacwilliam, Clonakilty pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving at both Richfordstown, Clonakilty and Trieneens, Clonakilty on March 20th last and received a four-month prison sentence for the offences.
Mr O’Donovan was initially charged with four counts of dangerous driving but the prosecution withdrew two of these and accepted the guilty pleas to two offences.
Sgt Paul Kelly told the court that on March 20th last at 12.50am Gda Paul O’Driscoll had been on patrol in Clonakilty where he heard over the garda radio that a Bandon patrol car was in pursuit of a car that didn’t stop for them.
‘He got the registration plate and using local knowledge he pulled in at a junction and got to see if the car was coming in his direction from Bandon, after the gardaí there lost sight of the car,’ said Sgt Kelly.
‘He could see the lights of a car in the distance and when it approached him, he attempted to stop it but the driver changed the course of travel, causing it to swerve.’
The defendant was driving at high speed and the car eventually squeezed between Gda O’Driscoll’s patrol car and a ditch.
‘He activated the blue lights for the car to stop but the defendant continued to drive at speed and when it came to a T junction, it drove straight through onto a major road without stopping,’ the sergeant said.
Due to concerns about the defendant’s speed, Gda O’Driscoll withdrew from chasing the defendant.
Gardaí called to the registered owner of the car four days later and met the defendant’s father who said his son was driving that night.
‘After caution, the defendant admitted he was driving that night but said he had no recollection of gardaí trying to stop him.’
The court heard that he has three previous convictions for road traffic offences.
Solicitor Conrad Murphy said his client runs the family farm and lives with his parents.
On the night of the incident he was going to Bandon to pick up his girlfriend.
‘He’s a reclusive character and he had his car parked on a road when gardaí approached the car and knocked on the window.
He then panicked and drove off and they followed him,’ said Mr Murphy.
‘He realises the seriousness of the situation and he keeps himself to himself and a disqualification will have a serious effect on his livelihood. He apologises to gardaí and he did admit at the first opportunity that he was driving.’
However, Judge McNulty said Mr O’Donovan’s conduct involves ‘gross irresponsibility and shocking disregard for lives and the livelihood of other citizens and police offices doing their duty.’
‘It was a lengthy high speed pursuit of a vehicle driven by him, with gardaí in Clonakilty having to back off, such was the level of his driving,’ said Judge McNulty.
Judge McNulty said no reason was given by the defendant as to why he drove off.
‘No doubt he will remember more when this comes before the Circuit Court,’ he commented, referring to any future appeal.
He convicted and fined him €3,000 and disqualified him from driving for three years on one of the charges and convicted and sentenced him to four months in prison on the second charge, and refused to suspend the sentence.
Recognisances for an appeal were fixed in the defendant’s own bond of €3,000 in cash.