A NEWCASTLE West man who stole a taxi and crashed it after the driver was beaten up, avoided a prison sentence and was given a chance to emigrate.
John Quilligan, 29, Knockane, Newcastle West, pleaded guilty before Limerick Circuit Court to stealing a vehicle at Tullaha, Broadford on October 16, 2009.
The court heard he and two other men were on a “drinking binge” when they crashed their car and got a lift from a lady on the road to their next pub.
A taxi picked them up in Meelin, County Cork, to travel to Newcastle West, but the driver and his companion were attacked by the men in the vehicle, and pulled the vehicle over in Broadford.
The injured parties jumped from the Ford Transit mini-bus and tried to grab the keys from the ignition.
However, it was the State’s case that the defendant then drove the vehicle away from the scene while the injured parties ran into a pub to call for help.
Gardai later received a call to say a vehicle was on fire in Newcastle West after it crashed, while two other cars were damaged en route to west Limerick.
Garda Jim Finn, Dromcollogher station, told the court that the men “were very shocked and upset by the beating they got”.
In February, the other parties in the case were each sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for three years, and ordered to pay €3,000 compensation between them.
Brian McInerney, BL, said there were a number of mitigating factors in this case, including the early indication of a plea from his client.
Mr McInerney said there no CCTV footage of incident itself, and he submitted there were would have been no case against his client without his admissions.
He added that the victims have been spared the trauma of giving evidence in court, as Quilligan has admitted his role.
He said Quilligan wished to emigrate to Belgium, saying “a bit of hard work would do him good”.
Facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison, Judge Moran handed down a three-year sentence, suspended for a period of three years on the basis that he’s of good behaviour.
He made the same ruling regarding compensation, and he also encouraged Quilligan to go to Belgium and get a job.
A full version of this story was published in the Limerick Leader, print edition, dated June 2, 2012.