Man was driving dangerously due to drug debt fears

Ballina District Court heard on Tuesday that a man who careened around a Ballina estate in a Nissan Micra in an attempt to avoid gardaí was only driving the car because he owed his passenger money for drugs.

Twenty-three year old John Anthony McDonagh, of 58 St Patrick’s Estate, Ballina, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving without insurance, NCT or a licence on May 22 last.

Inspector Tom Calvey told the court gardaí were on mobile patrol on the Killala Road, Ballina, shortly after midnight when they saw the Nissan Micra swerving erratically and turning into Bohernasup.

Gardaí signalled the car to stop. When the car came to a stop, the passenger jumped out and fled on foot.

Gardaí then went to approach the Micra on foot but it reversed and they had to jump onto the footpath to avoid being struck.

The Micra was then observed in Libadore Estate. The driver, McDonagh, fled on foot but gardaí pursued him and he was arrested.

Solicitor for McDonagh, John Gordon, said his client suffers from addiction problems.

He was directed to drive the car by the owner of the vehicle, to whom McDonagh owed money for drugs.

McDonagh was unable to cooperate with gardaí in relation to the passenger who fled on foot because he is in fear of him.

Mr Gordon said his client, who is father to a young son and who has a raft of previous convictions, has a very difficult past but he is trying to put his life in order and his situation is improving.

Judge Grainne O’Neill described McDonagh’s record as ‘appalling’.

“He has no regard for the laws of the land,” remarked the judge.

Judge O’Neill said there is nothing to be gained from sending McDonagh to jail. She directed that he be assessed for suitability to carry out community service.

Judge O’Neill said she is considering 100 hours of community service in lieu of a four-month sentence, should McDonagh be deemed suitable for such service.

The judge adjourned the case to February 10.

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