A non-national who rammed into the back of taxi before leading gardai on a dangerous high speed chase through the city has been jailed for 18 months and disqualified from driving for 10 years.
George Mkrtichiani (23 ), with an address at 11 Mayfield Grove, Athlone, Westmeath, appeared at Galway District Court last Monday where he pleaded guilty to five counts of dangerous driving at Taylor’s Hill, Fr Griffin Road, Grattan Road, Rahoon Road, and at Lough Atalia on August 31, 2008. He was also charged with two counts of hit and run at Bother Na Long and Rahoon Road, and one count of damaging a garda patrol car at Gleann Dara, Rahoon Road.
Garda John Whyte told the court that on August 31, 2008, at 3.50pm the defendant was driving a car which had rammed into the rear of a taxi and then drove away “at speed” up Lough Atalia towards the train station and “through the red lights at the Radisson Hotel”. The taxi driver who had followed the defendant rang gardai who then met the defendant at Wolfe Tone Bridge where he “drove on the footpath around the garda car” and again through red lights at the Fire Station. While on the wrong side of the road the defendant then drove through Grattan Road, “over speed ramps”, through all junctions, and overtaking dangerously. At Rahoon Road, Garda Whyte said that the defendant went into the rear of another vehicle before entering a cul de sac. When trying to exit the cul de sac the defendant “rammed the side of the garda car”. Garda Whyte added that all this occurred at a time when the roads were very busy and that the defendant “never once” stopped.
Defence solicitor Olivia Traynor agreed that this was a very serious matter and that if he had stopped after the first incident when he crashed the car it would have been just a case of no insurance but he then kept going and hit other cars. She said that thankfully no one was seriously injured. Ms Traynor said that the defendant, who is a Georgian national and a separated father of one, had been working in the construction industry and had been living in the country for five years. She said her client pleaded guilty at the first instance and never applied for bail.
Judge Mary Fahy replied that this incident was very “terrifying for Garda Whyte and other gardai involved as well as members of the public who would have seen the chase”. She said it was lucky that no one was injured.
“At Lough Atalia he went through the lights, then overtook, went up on footpath past the garda car. He’s lucky it’s not a charge of reckless endangerment,” said Judge Fahy
The court also heard how the defendant had no previous convictions. However, this failed to impress Judge Fahy who pointed out that, had the defendant actually appeared in court in 2005 to answer a charge of driving with a fake driving licence in June of that year, “he would have had a previous conviction”.
Ms Traynor then told Judge Fahy that the defendant’s ex-wife had money to pay for the damage to the garda car.
For the offences on August 31, 2008, the defendant was sentenced to a total of 18 months in prison, backdated to September 1, and was also disqualified from driving for 10 years. For driving with a fake licence at University Road on June 21, 2005, he was convicted and fined €200. Recognisance was fixed on his own bond of €1,000, and an independent surety of €1,500, one half to be lodged in each case.