THE stepfather of missing teenager Amy Fitzpatrick, who vanished in Spain five years ago, was given a four-month jail sentence today after he was convicted of a dangerous drink-driving incident.
Amy Fitzpatrick was 15 when she vanished on the night of January 1, 2008. She had left a friend's house on the Costa del Sol to walk to her own home less than two kilometres away but she did not arrive.
Her mother Audrey Fitzpatrick and her stepfather David Mahon have continued an appeal, including a reward, for information leading to the discovery of Amy who is originally from Donaghmede in Dublin.
Dublin District Court heard today that Mahon had been seen driving dangerously by an off-duty garda who followed him in north Dublin on January 1 last, the fifth anniversary of his step-daughter's disappearance.
After being tailed by the off-duty garda he was arrested near his home at Lorcan Drive, in Santry, in Dublin. He had pleaded not guilty to drink driving, three counts of dangerous driving and one charge of careless driving.
Judge Ann Watkin described the 42-year-old's dangerous driving as "horrendous" and said he had told “blatant lies”. She added that he had shown no remorse and it was a miracle he had not killed other motorists as she imposed the jail term and a five-year road ban.
In evidence, Garda Paul Mullen told Judge Watkin yesterday (TUE) that he had been off-duty and driving his own car on the M1 in north Dublin when he noticed another car in his rear view mirror.
It “veered from left to right very erratically in front of on coming vehicles” and its driver “almost lost control”. Gda Mullen said he followed the car and saw it repeatedly break read lights and on several occasions on-coming vehicles had to take “severe avoidance action”. He reported it to gardai and continued to follow Mahon's car.
Gda Mullen said at one point Mahon “almost collided with the rear of my vehicle” and veered across three lanes. Mahon continued to Dublin Airport and pulled in at Terminal 2 and where the off-duty officer parked in front of him. He saw Mahon speaking on his phone while he was stationary and he then pulled off again.
Gda Mullen followed and saw him break red lights “in front of on coming cars, causing them to take avoidance actions very heavily”. He said Mahon drove around a roundabout twice “erratically” and his car “fish tailed” . He said Mahon nearly caused another collision and later almost lost control of his car when he arrived at Lorcan Drive where he came to halt. Garda Mullen remained there and watched him until a squad car arrived.
Under cross-examination, he said he was not aware that Mahon had been the subject of serious threats to his life but added that he had not looked panicked.
He also said while he watched Mahon sitting in his car outside his home, he did not see him start to drink from a bottle after he had stopped.
Garda Ciaran Kennedy said he arrived and Mahon was beside his car, he could smell drink from him and described him as being unsteady on his feet and slurring his words. He agreed that Mahon, who has hip problems, needs a walking stick but said he had taken that into consideration.
He disagreed that Mahon had been in his car when arrested and said that he did not see any whiskey bottle at the scene.
Mahon was taken to Santry Garda station and provided a breath sample which gave a reading of 99mg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath.
In evidence Mahon claimed that he first noticed that he was being followed while he was driving in Santry Village but it was later put to him that the off-duty garda who had tailed him had not been there.
He said he feared he was going to be shot because he was being followed and senior gardai were aware of threats to his life. He had not known that the man who followed him was a garda. “I did not know if he would get out with a gun or a knife, I assume the people who have made life threats to me would be carrying a gun,” Mahon said.
He claimed that when he was outside his house in his car he picked up a Jack Daniels whiskey bottle to use as a weapon in the event was going to be attacked.
While he waited in his car which was now stationary he began to drink from the bottle, he claimed.
“I thought my life was at stake, I took more than a sup, I would have had around half, minimum, he said.
In mitigation pleas, the defence lawyer asked the judge to suspend the sentence and said Mahon's his step-daughter had gone missing five years ago; his partner, Audrey, who was in court for the hearing, depended on him and his own father was in poor health.
However, the judge refused but ordered that Mahon could be released on bail to appeal the verdict in his own bond of €400 half of which must be lodged along with an independent surety in the sum of €400.