Banned driver caught driving wrong way down motorway
A man with nine convictions for hit-and-run incidents, 23 for drink driving, and has had 79 prison terms served upon him, has been given a 10 month suspended sentence and 10 year driving ban after he was found guilty of driving the wrong way on a motorway at 180km/h.
Patrick Cotter (54), with an address at Church Street, Bandon, Co Cork, appeared before Ennis District Court yesterday.
He pleaded guilty to six changes of dangerous driving in relation to a series of incidents occurring along a 41km stretch of the motorway from Cratloe to Crusheen on June 18.
Cotter had already been banned from driving for 30 years in 2012, the court heard.
On the day of his latest driving offences, the defendant had not taken his bipolar medication, the court was told. The incident occurred on the second anniversary of his son's sudden death and he had already lost a daughter, the court was told.
Judge Patrick Durcan said Cotter was "gaily driving along, smoking a cigarette, window down, and going at 180km/h and meandering in and out of lane".
The judge had praise for a garda motorcyclist Gda John Reidy who put his life at risk in keeping up with Cotter before he finally came to a stop in Crusheen.
Judge Durcan told the defendant "don't come out of Cork" after hearing the case.
He also urged Cotter to give up his charity work which involved him travelling around and "to just watch the television from now on".
The judge made his comments before handing the 10 month suspended prison term and 10 year driving ban "for the worst driving case I have come across in my three and a half years on the bench".
He added Mr Cotter, who suffers from bipolar disorder, "is, when unwell, a massive danger to the public at large".
Mr Cotter apologised for his actions.
"Will you stay in Cork? Don't come out of it - we don't want you coming up here onto the dual carriageway," Judge Durcan told Mr Cotter.
Garda Reidy said there were a "number of close calls" for motorists who avoided colliding with Mr Cotter driving his Mercedes in the wrong direction on motorway lanes linking Limerick to Ennis.
The case was adjourned to allow Mr Cotter's GP Dr Eoin Monaghan outline details of a care plan for his patient.
Dr Monaghan told the court: "When Patrick is well, I can deal with Patrick all the time. When he is unwell, he is absolutely unwell and very difficult to manage."
Judge Durcan said the would suspend the ten month sentence if Mr Cotter abided by his care plan.