A man who led gardaí on a high speed chase while driving a stolen motorbike has been given a suspended sentence of three and half years.
Andrew O’Toole (22) drove the wrong way down the dual carriageway, the wrong way around numerous roundabouts and failed to stop at a number of red lights before he ultimately crashed the bike into a parked car.
O’Toole of Casement Close, Finglas in Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving and reckless endangerment in the Finglas area on May 26, 2013.
He has 12 previous convictions but has not come to garda attention since and became a father for the first time two days after the offence.
Garda Stephen Walsh told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that during the pursuit many motorists had to take “evasive action” to avoid crashing into O’Toole. At one stage a Dublin Bus had to swerve suddenly into road works to prevent a collision.
On the Naul Road, in Ballymun O’Toole took a blind corner at speed and oncoming traffic had to take evasive action. He then went the wrong way around the Dublin Road roundabout before going down on the wrong side of the dual carriageway.
Gda Walsh said he followed in his patrol car in an attempt to “let other drivers see him (O’Toole)” as there were no lights on the motorbike.
He said the pursuit ended at Woodhazel Terrace in Ballymun when O’Toole drove down a cul de sac, braked suddenly and the bike slid down the road on its side before crashing into a parked car.
O’Toole tried to run off but Gda Walsh arrested him after an initial struggle, during which the garda’s hand was injured. O’Toole was interviewed later but when asked to account for his actions he replied, “I blanked”.
Niall Nolan BL, defending, said his client’s driving speaks for itself. “It was appalling, gut wrenching, a blight on our roadways and society in general,” he said.
Counsel said his client’s responsibilities as a father are “keeping him on the straight and narrow” and he is engaging with a community project in his area.
Judge Martin Nolan said O’Toole “made a run for it” and endangered himself, members of the public and the gardaí.
Judge Nolan, who had remanded O'Toole in custody for over a month so he could “reflect upon the situation”, warned him that he would go back into custody if he reoffended.
“He needs to think that if he continues on the path he is going, this is his future,” Judge Nolan said before he added that he was impressed that O’Toole has kept out of trouble for the last two years.
“This gives the court hope but he is going to heave to learn the hard way that he is endangering himself and more importantly others,” Judge Nolan said.