A Westport man with seven previous convictions for driving without insurance, caught driving his wife’s car whilst on a 15-year driving ban, avoided a jail sentence from the District Court in Athlone, after Judge Seamus Hughes continued in his practice of offering community service where appropriate.
Before him this week (June 22 ), was Eddie Collins (37 ) from 6 Glenlara Park, Westport, Co Mayo, who had been stopped by Gardaí at Creggan, just outside Athlone, on August 16, whilst driving his wife’s car to Clondalkin.
As is proper, Judge Hughes informed the court he knew the defendant, but would hear the case unless anything came to light that might cause him to recuse himself, and force him to adjourn the case to another judge’s court in the interests of transparency. Nothing did and the case proceeded.
Inspector Nicholas Farrell for the State had told the court that of Collins’ 26 previous convictions, seven of them were for driving without insurance, with the most recent being a 15-year ban handed down in July 2006.
Collins’ solicitor, Mr Dara Hayden told the court: “Foolishly, my client chose to drive because his wife was suffering a migraine”.
“He accepts he’s looking down the barrel of a custodial sentence,” said Mr Hayden.
“What about hard work? Cutting grass. Outside work?” asked Judge Hughes.
Collins, who now claimed to be living in Clondalkin, said there was plenty of open spaces there.
“Oh, they’ll find something for me,” he said.
“It’s the same as a prison sentence, but more beneficial to the community,” said the judge.
He told Collins he would not disqualify his wife Winnie - who was also in court to face a single charge of knowingly allowing her car be driven by an uninsured driver - but fined her €150 instead.
He ordered Collins attend for 150 hours of community service, and asked the Welfare and Probation Service to adjudicate his suitability.