Tuesday 25 September 2018

Drunk driving father-of-15 had 'meltdown' when he led gardai on chase

Andrew Phelan

A drunk driving father-of-15 had a “meltdown” when he led gardai on a chase after they spotted an open bottle of beer beside him in his car.

Jimmy Connors (60), a chronic alcoholic, had already clocked up a massive 326 previous convictions for a range of offences when gardai caught him starting his car while highly intoxicated.

He was living in the car at the time after “falling off the wagon” over the death of a son.

Banning him from driving for 25 years and jailing him for four months, Judge David McHugh said Connor’s litany of prior offences was “some kind of record.”

Connors, from The Avenue, Belgard Heights, Tallaght, was also fined €1,200 after he pleaded guilty to drunk, dangerous and uninsured driving.

Garda Sergeant Maria Callaghan told Blanchardstown District Court the incident happened at the car park at Aldi, Newland’s Cross on June 14 last year.

It was 1.05am and gardai responded to a report of a man who was in a highly intoxicated state. When they arrived they saw Connors turning the keys in the ignition, with an open bottle of beer in the car beside him.

On speaking to him, he started the car and drove off at speed. Gardai followed him and he turned onto the Fonthill Road dangerously, causing other cars to take action to avoid him.

He also broke a red light. When the car stopped, he attempted to run from it as gardai approached. He was arrested and taken to Ballyfermot Garda Station, where a urine sample he provided was 235mg - more than three times the limit.

He was aggressive and abusive to gardai in the station after his arrest, Sgt Callaghan said.

In a previous incident, on April 5 last year, Connors was stopped driving at the Maldron Hotel car park in west Dublin. He had no insurance and gave gardai a false date of birth and address.

Connors was already serving a two-year sentence for burglary when he entered his pleas today.

His litany of prior offences included convictions for assault and threatening to kill.

“It would appear to be a record of some type or kind, I would imagine,” Judge McHugh said.

Defence barrister Jennifer Jackson said most of Connors’ prior convictions were for motoring offences.

He was a chronic alcoholic who had “never gotten to grips with” his problem, she said.

Connors was married but separated due to his alcoholism and had 15 children. Last year, a son died which caused Connors to “fall off the wagon,” Ms Jackson said.

At the time of the latest incident, he was homeless, drinking and living in his car. He realised this was no excuse.

“It would appear he had a meltdown at that time,” Judge McHugh said.

“He was very intoxicated and engaged in very dangerous driving on the night in question and but for fate the matter could have been an awful lot more serious.”

The judge said he was taking into account the accused’s difficult life and bereavement but had to balance that with the aggravating factors “of which there are many.”

The judge made the four month prison term consecutive to the sentence Connors is already serving.

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