Tuesday 16 January 2018

Car-obsessed man who led gardaí on high speed chase through housing estate jailed

Garda Traffic Corps. Stock picture
Garda Traffic Corps. Stock picture

Isabel Hayes and Fiona Ferguson

A car-obsessed man who led gardai on a high-speed chase through a residential Dublin area putting a “terrifying” number of people at risk has been jailed for two years.

Mark Davis, who has over 200 previous convictions mostly relating to road traffic offences, led gardaí on a ten-minute pursuit through Tallaght, driving at speeds of up to 100 km/h and nearly colliding with a Luas tram.

Davis (27) of Kilmartin Drive, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of dangerous driving in relation to the incident on March 27, 2015.

The court heard Davis is currently serving a prison sentence for a similar offence of endangerment and this sentence will be consecutive to that term which ends next June.

Judge Melanie Greally said the incident was “terrifying in terms of how many people were placed at risk”. “Luas passengers, children, drivers – a full range of road users were exposed to extreme danger,” she said.

“It was something of a miracle that no one was injured as a consequence of his driving,” said Judge Greally.

She said that a fascination with cars and the development of a drug habit had been the main drivers of his behaviour at the time. She noted testimonials handed into court on his behalf.

Judge Greally imposed a four year sentence and suspended the final two years. She ordered one year probation supervision. Davis is already under a 20 year disqualification from driving.

Garda David Jennings told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that he was on patrol when he spotted Davis reversing at high-speed out of a cul-de-sac in Tallaght shortly after 4pm.

Gardaí initiated a pursuit, during which Davis frequently crossed on to the wrong side of the road and broke several red lights, forcing several cars to brake to avoid colliding with him.

He also broke a red light and crossed in front of a Luas tram, forcing it to brake suddenly. Throughout the pursuit, Davis drove at speeds of between 80 km/hr and 100 km/hr in the 50 km/hr zone, the court heard.

Gda Jennings said he decided to end the pursuit after 10 minutes as it was too dangerous.

“It was Friday evening and traffic was heavy,” he said, adding there were a lot of children playing on the roads at the time. Gda Jennings said he recognised Davis – who was known to gardaí - during the pursuit and he was eventually arrested when he presented himself to a garda station.

He has 207 previous convictions, including 20 dangerous driving convictions, 21 convictions for failing to show a licence and five convictions for driving whilst disqualified.

Sarah Jane O'Callaghan, BL, defending, told the court that Davis “panicked” when he saw gardaí, as he had no insurance, no driving licence and no NCT cert for the car.

Ms O'Callaghan said Davis was an introvert who was “obsessed with cars”. She said Davis “placed himself under house arrest” after he got involved with a gang feud following a row involving his ex-girlfriend.

“He got caught up in a gang and this placed him under extreme stress,” Ms O'Callaghan said.

She submitted that Davis came from a decent family and that there was a job as a kitchen porter available to him on his release. She handed in testimonials on his behalf characterising him as a well regarded student and talented football player.

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