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Soldier who fled crash is banned for three years

A SOLDIER who crashed his car into a wall on a main road then fled the scene of the accident has been banned from driving for three years.

Christopher Clarke (28) lost control of his car and left it at the scene of the crash in north Dublin.

Fining him €750, Judge Catherine Murphy said he was "extremely fortunate" no other traffic had been on the road at the time.

Clarke, of, Rosmeen, Kells, Co Meath, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to charges of careless driving and hit and run.

Garda Gemma Macken said the crash happened at 6.45am on August 26, 2009. The car hit a wall and there was no driver at the scene when gardai arrived. Two witnesses told officers they saw the car drive up Chapel Lane, where it failed to stop at a stop sign and drove at speed across the Malahide Road, where it crashed. The driver was seen getting out and leaving the scene.

The car was towed to the Santry pound and the gardai established that the accused was the owner. Clarke made a statement in which he admitted driving at the time of the accident.

He had one previous conviction for drunk driving, for which he had been given a one-year ban. He was not disqualified from driving at the time of the accident.

Clarke had been in the army for three-and-a-half years and had served on a mission in Chad for four months, his lawyer said.

The accident happened when his steering wheel locked and the car went out of control.

The defendant hoped to travel abroad to take part in further missions and intended to take an NCO course. He stood to lose his job in the army if he was fined more than €1,500, his lawyer said.

Judge Catherine Murphy said she would not fine the accused more than that amount, but she refused to accept a charity donation instead of a fine, saying it was not appropriate.

She also refused a request not to disqualify the defendant from driving.