A DISTRICT justice has told a 20-year-old motorist that his drunk and dangerous driving caused the death of a pregnant garda's unborn baby.
David Judge (20) of Culfadda, Ballymote, drove a car so fast along a 9ft-wide country road that it came over a bridge airborne and crashed into a garda car.
Three gardai were injured, Sligo District Court was told.
One subsequently had to go off-duty for four months, a second for a shorter period and Garda Michelle Conroy, who was pregnant, later suffered a miscarriage.
At a sentencing hearing last Thursday, Judge Kevin Kilrane told Judge his driving had resulted in the fatality of a baby.
Judge had been remanded in custody for a week for sentencing, an experience he told the court was "scary." He said he had been bullied. Judge admitted charges of dangerous and drunk driving at Clogher, Monasteraden shortly after midnight on January 15th.
He had been previously fined in a separate incident for careless driving when his car left the road and ended up in a field.
The court heard that Judge was with four friends after drinking four bottles of Heineken.
Inspector Sean McGinty said: "Three Gardai were in a patrol car on a narrow road and observed a car coming in the opposite direction at 12.05 am at high speed.
"This car, which was "flying through" a series of dips was unable to stop as it came over the brow of a bridge.
"It collided head-on with the Garda car which had pulled in as far as it could go on the nine foot wide road."
Mr. Declan O'Callaghan, solicitor (defending) said Judge, the youngest in a family of three, was going from one friend's house to another.
He had four passengers with him.
Judge accepted he was driving too fast and had alcohol in his system.
The court was told the reading was 146 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood.
Judge, a gardener, said he hadn't driven since the crash. He apologised for his behaviour. Judge Kilrane said the defendant was driving at a speed which was utterly inappropriate for the narrow road.
At the previous sitting a Garda had given graphic evidence of the car coming at them in "waves, bumping up and down on the road." It was airborne. The driver of the patrol car had pulled in as far as he could but there was nowhere he could go.
Judge Kilrane noted that less than a year earlier Judge had been charged with dangerous driving in an incident where his car ended up in a field.
He was convicted on that occasion of careless driving and wasn't banned.
"He learned nothing from that obviously," said Judge Kilrane.
He didn't accept that the defendant had just four bottles of Heineken as this would not have brought him anywhere near a reading of 146.
His driving had resulted in the fatality of a baby and he deserved to go to prison.
However, Judge Kilrane said he would instead hand down 240-hours of community service and a five-year driving ban.