Wednesday 18 July 2018

Man who drove at speed towards gardai before fleeing to Norway given suspended sentence

Stock picture: Getty
Stock picture: Getty

Isabel Hayes

A man who drove at speed towards gardaí when he was a teenager before fleeing to Norway for six years has been given a suspended sentence.

Nassour Saleh (25) absconded to Norway in 2010 after he pleaded guilty to endangering gardaí at the Navan Road, Dublin on September 1, 2008. He was 16 years old and not eligible to drive at the time of the offence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today that Saleh also pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving, one count of driving without insurance and one count of driving under the influence of cannabis in 2010.

Saleh was given a suspended detention sentence of six months for those latter counts and he was disqualified from driving for four years. The late Judge Katherine Delahunt adjourned his sentencing on the endangerment charge in order to get a probation report.

Saleh did not engage with Probation Services and instead fled to Norway, where he lived and worked for six years.

Saleh of Windmere, Clonsilla, Dublin, returned to Ireland last year. He was arrested after he was pulled over by gardaí during a random check while he was a passenger in his friend's car.

Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, told the court that on September 1, 2008, Saleh stopped at a garda checkpoint at the Navan Road in the early hours of the morning before he suddenly accelerated his car. He drove straight at two gardaí, causing them to jump out of his way.

He then took gardaí on a lengthy high-speed chase that went through Blanchardstown and Clonee in Dublin, Dunboyne in Meath and Maynooth in Kildare. He crossed to the wrong side of the road several times and crashed into a patrol car before he crashed into a tree and was arrested. No one was injured in the incident.

Saleh has no previous convictions.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said his client was a Palestinian national, whose family came to Ireland to escape the violence there. He said Saleh played GAA and did his Junior Cert before becoming a mechanic.

He said Saleh had no business to be driving a car that night and “panicked” when he saw the garda checkpoint. “He made a disastrous decision and was extremely lucky no-one was injured,” Mr Le Vert said.

Mr Le Vert said it was an aggravating factor that Saleh then fled the jurisdiction, but noted he never came to the attention of authorities in Norway, where he worked as a mechanic. Since returning to Ireland, he had started a new relationship and was working.

“This offence (of endangerment) was committed by a 16-year-old boy,” Mr Le Vert said.

“The 25-year-old man has not committed anything like that and seems to be using his time gainfully in employment.”

Sentencing Saleh, Judge Terence O'Sullivan said the case had a number of “unusual features”. He said those engaged in front line services, including gardaí and paramedics, “must be protected at all costs”.

He said if the offence had occurred more recently, he would have imposed a sentence of two or three years.

However, he noted that Saleh had pleaded guilty and was a juvenile at the time of the offence. He said it appeared Judge Delahunt was prepared to impose a non-custodial sentence for the endangerment count and that Saleh had not come to the attention of authorities since.

He handed down a two-year sentence and suspended it on a number of conditions, including that Saleh must remain under the supervision of Probation Services for two years.

“That means any offence, even jaywalking, is one that might trigger the application of the sentence,” he told Saleh, who thanked the judge before leaving court.

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