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Sligo driver who pulled sign off court wall after getting a ban has jail term overturned


A young driver was successful in appealing a five month prison sentence he was handed in Sligo District after Judge Francis Comerford heard details of the case at the circuit court.

Vincent Harte (22) of Largan, Collooney, Sligo was handed a lengthy driving disqualification in the district court on May 6th 2021 and he subsequently became irate and was observed by gardaí pulling a sign off the wall in the courthouse and throwing it onto the ground.

Sergeant Derek Butler told the court Gda Dolan viewed CCTV and identified the defendant who had left and both Gda Dolan and Gda Costello were travelling in the direction of Collooney.

At 1:35pm they were going by Parkes Garage on the old Ballisodare to Collooney road when they saw two males standing on the left hand side of the road. One of them threw an item which hit the front of the patrol van and broke the front windscreen which smashed.

Harte was standing with his hands in the air and was subsequently arrested and charged with two counts of criminal damage. He pleaded guilty to both.

The sergeant outlined he had 13 previous convictions for road traffic matters and had received a lengthy disqualification.

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Mr Peter Paul Daly BL instructed by Mr Mark Mullaney (solicitor) asked the sergeant if the offending was in a limited period and Sgt Butler said it was. He said he came to garda attention in June ‘19 and it went on into April 2020.

He agreed with the barrister he had not come to garda attention since. The sergeant said he was a young lad who had been working in a petrol station.

Both his parents were in court and Sgt Butler said he came from a fine family who were very supportive of him.

Mr Daly told the court on behalf of his client he wanted to express his apology to the sergeant and his colleagues in the garda vehicle.

He said he was a young man with communication difficulties. He had been studying a course in mechanical engineering in ATU Sligo but had dropped out. He had a happy childhood and was a very good sportsman and was known to be helpful and hardworking and was quite shy.

He was using cannabis which he was dealing with. He said he had a history of road traffic offending over a relatively short period of time. On the day in question, all of the matters had been dealt with and he reacted the way he did as he was given three separate four year disqualifications.

He foolishly pulled the sign and stupidly threw something at the garda vehicle.

Judge Comerford it was very serious to throw an object at a window of a garda vehicle. It was utterly reckless and thankfully nothing further occurred.

His barrister said he hasn’t driven since and has an e-bike. He was no longer working and handed in a testimonial from his former employer in Parkes Garage who said he was polite, honest, trustworthy and carried out the job well.

They would have no hesitation in employing him in the future. Mr Daly said his mother had taken early retirement to be more hands on.

The court was told he had spent a period of one week and another of five days in custody and it was upsetting for him. The barrister said he was asking the court to consider given the great efforts of the last year and with him staying out of trouble if there were alternative means than custodial.

Judge Comerford said it was a very serious offence of him lashing out.

He said he considered the medical report and his circumstances saying some people develop different personalities.

He said taking all of this and the intervention of his family, it was appropriate to suspend the five months sentence on condition he keeps the peace and be of good behaviour.