Monday 19 August 2019

Man misses birth of his child after he crashed into a van after avoiding garda checkpoint

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A young Dublin man who crashed into a van driver after avoiding a Garda checkpoint claimed he had been speeding because his girlfriend was in labour, a court has heard.

Leon O'Brien (22) was yesterday sentenced to the three years and nine months with the final nine months suspended on strict conditions.

At a sentence hearing last December Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that O'Brien was the only occupant of a black Skoda Octavia when he pulled a handbrake turn coming up to a Garda checkpoint and then crashed into a Fingal County Council van.

Garda Neil Cotter said that O'Brien fled the vehicle and ran into a nearby caravan park where he was found underneath his father's mobile home with a gash to his hand from broken glass.

O'Brien, who also possessed over €1,400 of cannabis, told gardaí in interview he was speeding because his girlfriend was in labour.

Gda Cotter agreed with Fiona Murphy SC, defending, that O'Brien got news that his girlfriend had given birth while he was in the cells.

O'Brien, of Dunne Street Flats, Dublin pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, endangerment and possession of 240g of cannabis worth €1,440 around Donabate, Dublin, on September 27, 2016.

He has 75 previous convictions for mostly minor road traffic offences and drugs offences at District Court level.

Judge Melanie Greally said the driver of the van suffered severe consequences which led to a significant deterioration in his quality of life. He suffers from chronic pain and his “social and personal life has taken a very considerable setback”.

She acknowledged O'Brien's plea of guilty, his remorse and the insight into his actions. She also accepted that he had a limit history of violence.

Judge Greally suspended the final nine months of a three year and nine months sentence on strict conditions including that he remain under supervision from the Probation Service for 12 months.

At the hearing last December Gda Cotter told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that he saw the Skoda do a sharp handbrake turn coming up to the checkpoint, before speeding off on the Hearse Road towards Donabate.

Witnesses described seeing the car drive on the wrong side of the road on a grass verge. The back of the car remained on the verge, the vehicle lost traction and the front then collided into a Fingal Co Council van.

The van driver later told gardaí he noticed the male in the Octavia swerving across the road and trying to straighten his car up before the collision.

The driver told his passenger to “get ready” before the impact. He then recalled seeing the male in the other car running off.

Gda Cotter said the van driver felt twinges in his back following the crash and was put in a spinal collar when he received medical treatment.

The garda said he and colleagues went to the caravan park after some witnesses indicated O Brien had run to that location. Gda Cotter said he found a passport, cannabis pellets and a white t-shirt soaked in blood inside one of the mobile homes.

He later discovered O'Brien hiding under the premises. O Brien claimed in interview that he had bought the drugs for €500 and that they were for his personal use.

Gda Cotter agreed with Ms Murphy that O'Brien had lost control of the vehicle and that “thankfully” the van driver and his passenger were able to walk away from the crash.

He further agreed that O'Brien was fully co-operative when caught and remorseful for his actions.

He accepted that it was fair to say the father-of-two had turned his life around.

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