Saved by the Leaving Cert

A man with 63 previous convictions who fought with a garda after being apprehended for joyriding around the Marist College in July, avoided any addition to his present sentence after the court heard how he had just started the Leaving Cert in prison.

However, Martin Ward (28 ), with addresses in Thornbury Drive, Sarsfield Square and Castlemain Street, Athlone, as well as in Tuam and Mountmellick, will not be allowed to drive again for another 10 years after being convicted of driving without insurance for a third time.

Garda Mark T Lucas gave evidence how he formally arrested Ward from custody on the morning of court (September 22 ) on foot of an outstanding warrant from Mullingar and for this three year old charge.

Garda Lucas told how he had been on mobile patrol on July 19 and had observed the defendant driving a stolen vehicle around the college.

“The defendant ran through a field to get away but returned to the car,” said Garda Lucas, who then radioed for assistance.

“The defendant then jumped into the Mercedes and drove out of the college but was stopped by the squad car. He drove back into the college and went off through the fields again.”

Gardai went in pursuit of Ward, and he fought with the garda who stopped him in the fields and was subsequently arrested. The court heard how, after the arrest, the car was searched and a small amount of heroin was found.

He also pleaded guilty to stealing €50 worth of petrol from a filling station in Tullamore after driving off without paying for it.

The court was told that of his 63 previous convictions, 19 were for road traffic offences and 23 for theft. At the time of his appearance on Wednesday, Ward was serving two consecutive, 11-month sentences for theft from Athlone District Court on May 26, and a further six months from Portlaoise District Court, and had an expected release date of May 26, 2012.

His solicitor, Mr Tony McLynn, entered a plea of guilty on all outstanding charges.

“In relation to the events at Mullingar [where he didn’t show up for court] he was simply out of his head on drugs,” he said.

“He wishes to apologise to the garda on the injury suffered. He has very recently started studying for the Leaving Cert course in prison.”

Judge David Anderson accepted this and sentenced Ward to 10 months in prison for resisting arrest, to four months on each of the two driving without insurance charges, eight months for the petrol theft, and another four months for the drug possession.

He banned Ward from driving for 10 years and ordered all Wednesday’s sentences to run concurrently with his present term.



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