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Woman flouted 40-year car ban to see dying dad

A MOTHER-of-six who was caught behind the wheel of a car while she was banned from driving said she had received an urgent call from a hospital to visit her dying father.

Mary O'Reilly Connors (45) had begged a judge not to send her to jail, saying she didn't want to miss the occasion of her children's First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

She also told the court that 23 people in her family had died in the past three years -- either through suicide or illness -- and she had struggled to cope with her grief.

A judge ordered her to complete 240 hours community service in lieu of six months in prison.

O'Reilly Connors was back before the court for sentencing after a judge ordered a pre-sentence report.

Judge James McDonnell warned her that if she came before the courts again she would go to jail.

The defendant, who was already banned from driving for 40 years, said she was "on the Luas now" and swore on her father's grave that she would never drive again.

O'Reilly Connors, of Owendoher Haven in Ballyboden, previously admitted before Tallaght District Court to driving without insurance or a driving licence on Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham, around 4.30pm on November 13, 2008.

The court previously heard that O'Reilly Connors had 29 previous convictions, including five for driving without insurance, and she was banned from driving for 40 years last July.

Defence solicitor Kevin Tunney said the defendant's father was dying and she got an urgent call from the hospital to visit him, so she got into her car and drove even though she knew she was not insured to drive.

Judge McDonnell banned the defendant from driving for 10 years, and sentenced her to 240 hours community service in lieu of six months in prison.