Tuesday 20 August 2019

Father-of-one who crashed his car into British Embassy gates in 'highly reckless' act avoids jail

The British Embassy on Merrion Road. Photo: Google Maps
The British Embassy on Merrion Road. Photo: Google Maps

Brion Hoban and Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Kildare father-of-one has received a suspended sentence for crashing his car into the gates of the British Embassy while off his medication.

Eric Hogan (33) with an address at Harbour View, Canal Side, Athy, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage at the British Embassy, Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, on June 9, 2018.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour at the same place. He also pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine at Donnybrook Garda Station, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, all on the same date.

The court heard that samples taken from Hogan at Cloverhill Prison later tested negative for drugs or alcohol.

The embassy's outer gates were knocked off their rails by the collision and the total cost of repairing the gates was €33,500 plus VAT.

Today Judge Pauline Codd said this was a “highly reckless” act and that members of the public could have been injured.

She set a headline sentence of six years, but took into account Hogan's guilty plea and his low risk of re-offending if he complies with his psychiatric medication. The judge also acknowledged that Hogan is sole carer for his child.

Judge Codd imposed a four-year sentence which she suspended in full on strict conditions, including that Hogan show the Probation Service that he is taking his medication. She also banned him from driving for two years.

Read More: Father-of-one who crashed into gates of British Embassy was 'off his medication', court hears

Earlier, Garda Declan Dunne told Barry Ward BL, prosecuting, that on the night in question he was on duty outside the embassy when he saw a grey Peugeot car drive in front of and collide with the outer gates.

Gda Dunne said that Hogan was shouting when he drove into the gates “but not making sense”. He saw him exit the car and thought he was intoxicated due to slurring his speech.

Gda Dunne agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that Hogan took umbrage at the suggestion that he had been drinking. He told gardaí that he never drinks and drives due to his uncle having been killed by a drink driver when he was aged 22.

Mr Le Vert said his client was “off his medication” at the time of the incident and that he was grappling with psychiatric issues. He said Hogan did not know where he was when he was remanded in custody and thought he was in an asylum.

He said his client had a “spotty memory” of the crash and was mortified by his actions. Hogan has five previous convictions for public order offences.

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