A high speed chase leading out of Galway City on Halloween ended with a drunk driver ditching the car he had taken, and trying to escape Gardaí on foot across open fields.
Alan Connell (23), with an address at Old Road, Tuam received a total sentence of 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges of dangerous driving, unauthorised taking of a vehicle, driving without insurance or licence, and drunk driving at Galway District Court.
The incident involved a high speed chase that began when Connell hit the side of Garda car trying to stop him at Fearr an Rí estate in Doughiska on the evening of October 31 this year, and ended with him diving out of the moving car at Grange, Claregalway after a number of dangerous incidents.
In one incident singled out by Gardaí as particularly dangerous, Connell blew through a red light at a pedestrian crossing on the Old Dublin Road while a woman was crossing with a pram.
Connell was pursued by Gardaí out of Galway City in the direction of Galway airport, performing numerous dangerous overtaking and undertaking manoeuvres at high speeds on narrow roads.
At one one point he was clocked doing 180km/hr speeds in an 80km speed zone at Lydican. Shortly afterwards he crashed into a tree and stone wall following a sharp turn, but continued driving for a time afterwards.
The chase ended when Connell jumped out of the still moving car at Grange, and ran into a field while the now driverless vehicle rolled on and crashed. Gardaí apprehended and arrested him after he ran through several more fields.
An oral fluid sample tested positive for cocaine and cannabis, and a blood sample taken back at the station returned a result of 147mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, almost three times the limit for a fully licenced driver.
The car, which was not his, was taken without permission from Flannery’s Hotel in Galway City earlier that evening.
At the time of the incident, Connell had no licence or insurance as he was serving a 6 year disqualification from driving which was imposed in 2016.
Solicitor for the defence Martina Moran said that her client had a long history of addiction, which he was attempting to address, and had a “blowout” that night, for which there was no explanation.
She added that he realises how lucky he is that the circumstances of this incident did not result in more serious charges, and entered a plea at the first opportunity,
Judge Mary Fahy said that “this man did not seem to have regard for anyone else on the road”, describing his behaviour as “absolutely appalling”.
For the dangerous driving incident that initiated the chase, where Connell struck the Garda car at Fearr an Rí, Judge Fahy imposed a five month prison sentence.
Consecutive sentences of five months and four months were imposed for the dangerous driving where he blew through the red light at the pedestrian crossing, and for the drunk driving charge.
A further one month in prison was imposed for the driving without insurance charge, bringing the sentence to a total of 15 months.
Concurrent or suspended sentences were imposed on the other dangerous driving, driving without a licence, and unauthorised taking charges.
Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal at €400 of his own bond, and an independent surety of €1,000, half of which was to be lodged with the court.