A YOUNG man who drove at speed at a checkpoint manned by armed gardai following a high-speed pursuit was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Martin ‘Sonny’ Casey, aged 25, of Toppins Field, Rathbane pleaded guilty to “intentionally or recklessly” engaging in conduct which created a “substantial risk of death or serious harm” to a garda sergeant and four gardai who were manning the checkpoint at Fedamore Cross on January 8, last.
During a sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Paul Crowley said the pursuit began at around 8.45pm after members of the armed regional support unit (RSU) tried to stop an English-registered Renault Megane being driven by the defendant at Swallow Drive, John Carew Park.
He told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, the vehicle “took off” after leaving the city reaching speeds in excess of 170kph.
Given the poor weather conditions, gardai stopped their pursuit and instead decided to set up a checkpoint at Fedamore Cross - a back road back into the city.
As the checkpoint was being set up, the defendant approached at speed and drove straight at one of the two marked RSU vehicles. One garda was forced to take evasive action while another moved one of the garda cars to avoid a collision.
Judge Tom O’Donnell was told both garda cars had their blue lights on at the time and that Mr Casey, who was disqualified, would have had a “clear view” as he approached the crossroads.
Limerick Circuit Court was told gardai accept the defendant did not intend to cause injury to the gardai and that his primary motive was to evade capture on the night.
Following the incident, the Megane was located a short time later at the Delta Retail Park and Mr Casey arrested at a nearby commercial premises.
Following his arrest he denied any involvement in the incident telling gardai he had been at home checking horses.
Brian McInerney BL said his client accepted his conduct had been appalling and that he “does not have the best of track records”.
He said Mr Casey has a history of mental health issues and has limited literacy and numeracy skills. Mr McInerney said his client, who is currently serving a ten month prison sentence for separate dangerous driving offences, has been attending classes in prison and is making good use of his time.
Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell said the actions of the defendant were “reckless in the extreme” and could have led to “catastrophic, if not fatal consequences”.
He said it was an aggravating factor that Casey was disqualified at the time and that the bulk of his previous convictions are for road traffic offences.
He imposed a three year prison sentence backdating it to October 1, last.