Defending solicitor Michael O'Donnell for Natalie Sherida
A YOUNG woman who drove at speeds of up to 150km/h in an attempt to evade gardai has been warned she will go to jail if she reoffends.
Natalie Sheridan, 19, who has an address at Ballywilliam, Rathkeale has pleaded guilty to multiple road traffic charges relating to an incident in the town on March 17.
During a hearing last month, Inspector Andrew Lacey told Newcastle West Court gardai decided to follow a grey Peugeot car – being driven by the defendant – after they saw “two females hanging out the rear window.”
Ms Sheridan, who lives in the UK, accelerated at high speed before driving through the centre of the town.
Insp Lacey said during the pursuit through Rathkeale, the defendant overtook a number of cars on the wrong side of the road and that two pedestrians had to jump out of the way of the car.
The court heard she reached speeds of 150km/h in a 100km/h zone and 100 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.
When the Peugeot car was stopped at Church Street, Rathkeale shortly after 10pm, gardai established that Ms Sheridan was not insured to drive the car and did not have a driver’s licence.
Solicitor Michael O’Donnell said his client has no previous convictions and that events had “spiralled from what was a relatively minor matter”.
He told Judge John King the defendant, who was driving her mother’s car on the night, was going to get food with friends when she first encountered gardai at Main Street, Rathkeale.
“She panicked. It was bizarre and dangerous,” he said.
The solicitor said his client, who mainly lives in the UK, is embarrassed by her behaviour and has been chastised by her parents.
A probation report was prepared after Judge King previously indicated he was considering 240 hours of community service in lieu of a prison sentence
“If she is not going to do community service, she is going to jail. Either way she will be in the jurisdiction for some time,” said the judge.
While noting her colleague’s views during a hearing last Friday, Judge Mary Larkin commented that her age and previous good record were factors that she had to consider.
She also noted it would be difficult for the defendant to carry out community service as she mainly lives outside the jurisdiction.
In the circumstances, she imposed a three month prison sentence which she suspended for 12 months.
Ms Sheridan was disqualified for three years and fined a total of €1,000.
“She could have killed them all including herself,” commented Judge Larkin after hearing the facts of the case.