A man who drove on the wrong side of the Athlone-Ballinahown road at speeds of up to 160kph whilst being pursued by gardaí avoided a jail sentence and disqualification after he proved he had been assaulted previously by a man impersonating a garda.
David Bracken (19 ) with an address at Glynnwood, Athlone was before Judge Seamus Hughes on Wednesday (February 27 ) to face three counts of dangerous driving on the night of March 29.
Inspector Aidan Minnock told how gardaí in an unmarked car en route to Clara spotted a suspicious vehicle going the other way at Fardrum at around 11.30 on the night in question, turned, followed it, and stopped it.
The inspector explained how, as one of his gardaí approached the car, “it took off at speed down the N62 on the wrong side. It didn’t stop and continued towards Ballinahown”.
He pointed out how Bracken crossed the chicaned railway bridge “on the wrong side at 150kph”.
“Judge, there’s no vision through this bend, and it is an extremely dangerous manouevre,” said the inspector, who went on to detail the other illegal manouevres and speeds employed by Bracken during the 15 km chase before he was stopped by the Regional Response Unit.
In his defence, his solicitor, Mr Brian O’Brien, explained that in February 2011 Bracken had been tricked into stopping by a car with an illegal blue light, was boxed in by a second vehicle, before being assaulted on the road by the driver in the pursuit car, who was subsequently prosecuted.
“It was something to do with a lady,” explained Mr O’Brien enigmatically.
“When the squad pulled up behind him [on March 29] he made a split-second decision,” Mr O’Brien went on.
“When he was stopped by the RRU he was delighted to see them. When he was put in the back of a marked car he apologised to the gardaí,” said Mr O’Brien.
“They didn’t believe me at first, they didn’t know what happened before,” Bracken explained to Judge Hughes.
“An unusual situation, inspector. Maybe next time you go chasing a car, you do it in a marked car,” mused Judge Hughes.
“All I can say, judge, is when Sergeant [Cormac] Moylan got out and approached his car he was in full uniform,” pointed out Inspector Minnock.
When he learned that Bracken had no previous convictions, and worked fulltime with his family’s tow-truck business, Judge Hughes struck out one charge of dangerous driving, and changed the remaining two to careless driving.
He fined Bracken €200 on one count, and ordered a €200 payment to the court’s poor box on the other.