'Fool' (54) who led gardai on 110kph chase claims lover said she had coke
A 54-year-old father-of-five has been jailed after he and his young cocaine-snorting girlfriend tried to escape gardai in a high-speed car chase.
Noel O'Callaghan, of Cronan Lawn, Shannon, said he pulled away from the unmarked garda car when the woman told him: "I've got cocaine on me."
In a high-speed chase along minor roads near Dromoland Castle in Co Clare in May last year, O'Callaghan drove at more than 110kph.
The speed limit on some of the roads was only 50kph, Ennis District Court was told.
O'Callaghan, who is separated from his wife, was eventually stopped in the village of Quin.
He was jailed for four months and banned from driving for five years.
Judge Patrick Durcan described O'Callaghan as a "blaggard" who put at risk the lives of the gardai who chased him and other road users.
He said elderly people, mothers with prams and children on their way home from school were put in danger "by the madness of your driving".
"Anyone who drives like that deserves nothing other than the heaviest penalties that this court can impose," he said.
Judge Durcan said O'Callaghan had "an appalling record".
Speaking of O'Callaghan's relationship with his girlfriend, who was 20 years his junior, Tara Godfrey, defending, said: "There's no fool like an old fool.
"The gardai are seen on the road and she tells him that she has cocaine.
"He did not know about the cocaine until she told him and he didn't know if she had a little bit of talcum powder or a sugar bag of talcum powder.
"That was what motivated his flight from the gardai. It was wrong, it was dangerous and he pleads guilty to it."
Ms Godfrey said O'Callaghan had appeared before the court on a drugs charge in 2015.
When his girlfriend told him she had cocaine on her, "he only saw the gates of Limerick prison close behind him".
Ms Godfrey said O'Callaghan, whose children were aged from 19 to 34, had "made a poor decision in relation to the recipient of his affections".
"If it is any consolation, the girlfriend is no more," she said. "She was dispatched and he is never going to go out with anyone again."
Judge Durcan said that O'Callaghan's defence "lacked chivalry and doesn't appeal to me".
Det Gda Garry Stack, who was driving the unmarked pursuit car, said O'Callaghan was travelling at 110kph along minor country roads.
"We couldn't keep up with him," he said.
O'Callaghan was freed on bail pending an appeal.