A LIMERICK man faces a 12-year driving ban and 200 hours of community service in lieu of five months in prison for dangerous driving and failure to present driving documents, after gardaí chased him in the city.
Mark Moloney, 27, of South Claughaun Road, denied driving dangerously through Garryowen on January 2, 2016.
Gda Dermot Cummins told the court that after he signalled the blue flashing lights to signal the driver to stop after Claughaun Court at 6.45pm, he observed the vehicle failing to stop at stop signs and not yielding to ongoing traffic. He was joined by Gda Aled Harken on mobile patrol.
The driver then proceeded “at speed” as gardaí pursued him, the court heard. The driver braked suddenly at Kilmurry Road and “came to an abrupt stop”.
“He then exited the vehicle, fleeing on foot,” Gda Cummins said. He added that he chased the accused on foot towards Garryowen, but he soon disappeared.
When the gardaí inspected his vehicle, the keys were still in the car and there was a “warm” Chinese takeaway on the passenger seat.
Gardaí called to the defendant’s house at South Claughaun Road on March 14, 2016. He was asked to present his driver’s insurance and licence, but failed to do so, the court heard.
When questioned by defending solicitor Tom Kiely about the lighting that evening, Gda Cummins said that it was dark but that there was “good street lighting”.
He said that he did not have clear view of Moloney until he left the vehicle at Kilmurry Road. Mr Kiely argued that his client denies driving the vehicle that day.
When asked if fingerprints were taken after the incident, Gda Cummins responded: “I don’t recall.”
Gda Cummins said that Moloney’s mother called the gardaí earlier that day to say that the car had been stolen. She told the gardaí that Moloney was in Newcastle West at a family christening. The court heard the vehicle belonged to Moloney’s mother.
Gda Cummins said, at the time, that that “could not be possible”, as he had seen the accused outside Hong Kong restaurant, on William Street, 15 minutes before the incident.
Mr Kiely said that it would have been “pretty easy” to get forensic investigators to assess the scene, adding: “That wouldn’t have been overly-burdensome”.
Mr Kiely said that it was alleged that Moloney’s cousin was seen driving the vehicle earlier that day. Gda Cummins said: “That is correct.”
“Did you ever think of asking that cousin if he was driving the car?” Gda Cummins said: “Judge, I observed the defendant driving.”
When Mark Moloney, entered the witness box, he said: “I wasn’t driving it [the car].”
Insp Oliver Kennedy asked whom did he visit at the christening in Newcastle West. He said that he was visiting his cousin, but he did not know the name of the child.
The court was told that the mother rang the defendant to notify him that the car had been stolen. He said that he was driving on his way home.
Insp Kennedy asked Mark Moloney what he thought about the gardaí identifying him in the vehicle. He replied: “I really don’t know why they have mistaken me. It is absolutely absurd.”
After Judge Mary Larkin found the defendant, who had 94 previous convictions, guilty, Mr Kiely asked the judge to not to impose a prison sentence as the defendant was “the only responsible adult” in the household, looking after two younger siblings.
Judge Larkin ordered a suitability report on Moloney for 200 hours’ community service in lieu of five months’ prison, on which there will be a decision this September.