Friday 31 October 2014

Wheelchair motorist threatened garda after smashing into parking meter with BMW

Nicola Donnelly

Published 30/05/2014 | 14:18

A WHEELCHAIR-bound motorist who crashed into a parking meter causing €4,000 worth of damage and then threatened to strike gardai with his wheelchair has been disqualified from driving.

Philip Dunne, also threatened a 'good Samaritan' who stopped to help him after the car crashed.

Dunne (29), of Woodland Court in Rush, pleaded guilty to careless driving, causing criminal damage, using threatening and abusive behaviour and Section 2 assault on November 14, 2013. A charge of failing to give a blood sample at Ballymun Garda Station on the same date was struck out.

Judge Dermot Dempsey remarked that Dunne's “behaviour was despicable when a good Samaritan and the gardai came to help him.”

Garda Kieran Moloney gave evidence at Balbriggan District Court that on the night, Dunne was driving a 5-series BMW at excessive speed on Lower Main Street in Rush.

Dunne lost control of the car and crashed into a parking meter, destroying it.

Gda Moloney said no vehicles nor pedestrians were struck by the BMW.

He said a witness, Patrick Butterly, went over to check on Dunne after the collision.

“The defendant started to threaten Mr Butterly, causing Mr Butterly to believe he was going to be struck by the defendant,” said Gda Moloney.

He said a passenger in the car assisted Dunne on getting out of the car and placed him in his wheelchair.

When gardai arrived, Dunne, who has seven previous convictions, started threatening and abusing them and attempted to strike the gardai with his wheelchair.

Defence solicitor Fiona D'Arcy explained that Dunne was the victim of a vicious assault which left him paralysed from the waist down in 2006.

“Through fundraising, his family managed to get the car modified for him,” said Ms D'Arcy. “He lost control of it and panicked. He reacted very badly. He barely remembers the incident as he was so panicked over the car.”

She said Dunne has “learned his lesson' and that an incident like this will never happen again as he needs his car to give him independence.

Judge Dempsey said Dunne's behaviour was “despicable”' and that he cannot see his way out of a disqualification. “'He isn't fit to be driving,” said Judge Dempsey and disqualified him from driving for three months and fined him €300 for careless driving.

He further convicted and fined him €100 for assault, €100 for using threatening and abusive behaviour and took the charge of criminal damage into consideration after Dunne paid €4,000 in compensation to Fingal County Council.

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