A 21-year-old, self-professed car dealer who had never held a driving licence but who was caught driving without insurance four times last year, was given a 10 month jail sentence and was banned from driving for seven years in the District Court this week (January 6 ).
Evidence was given how Lee Crotty (21 ), with a present address at Hawthorn Road, Creagh, Ballinasloe, Co Galway but previously from Thomastown, Ballydangan, Athlone was stopped by gardai on January 23 and April 22 in Willow Park, on February 22 in Alverno Drive and on May 12 in Cornamaddy.
On each occasion he was given a lawful demand to produce his documents at a station of his choice within the mandatory 10 days, but on each occasion he failed to do so. A bench warrant was issued for Crotty on November 25.
“I saw him drive all the vehicles each time,” said Garda Mark T Lucas.
Crotty contested the charges, and claimed he was victimised by Garda Lucas for failing to assist him in the surveillance of some of Crotty’s neighbours in a named estate. This was denied by Garda Lucas.
Crotty, originally from Waterford but who came to live with his partner in Athlone in September 2008, told the court he left the named estate just eight months later.
Pointing out the defendant was only just in town, in an estate of over 200 houses with others much longer in the neighbourhood, Superintendent Aidan Glacken asked: “Why would Garda Lucas come to you for information?”
In evidence, Crotty said he had worked in the parts department of a BMW garage.
“Cars are all I know since I left school,” he told Judge John Neilan.
“Did it ever occur to you to go to the Garda station and report a guard was demanding documents like this?” asked the judge.
Crotty said it didn’t.
Then the judge asked him about his dealings with cars, and pointed out at least six different registrations from the charge sheets before him.
“I had numerous vehicles in Waterford and never came to Garda attention,” said the defendant.
“These are not Dinky cars. They have to be moved,” said the judge.
“When they come to me they are dropped off,” said Crotty.
The judge then pointed out that he had granted legal aid to Crotty last July because “you couldn’t afford to pay for your defence”, and wondered how this was the case if he owned six cars.
Crotty told the judge that these cars were only worth from €350, but the judge pointed out that four of these would be worth €1,400.
“Who does he think he is, driving around without insurance?” asked Judge Neilan, pointing out that legitimate driverrs in Ireland have to pay an additional €120m each year to pay for the uninsured.
“He seems to think he can trade in cars and drive hither and thither around the country,” said the judge, before finding the defendant guilty on all counts.
He sentenced Crotty to 10 months in jail, but adjourned imposition until May 5 to await a probation report. He also banned him from driving for seven years, to begin in 15 days.