Man crashes into road signs while out on temporary release drinking binge

An Inverin man had been out on temporary release from prison when he drove his car while drunk, smashing into road signs, before coming to a stop in the middle of a roundabout, the Galway District Court heard this week.

Highlighting the seriousness of the offence Judge Mary Fahy said that it was lucky that road signs were knocked down and not other road users or pedestrians. She also noted that it was clear that 20-year-old Marcus Conneely, who had been driving while disqualified and was serving a sentence for similar road traffic offences at the time, had not learnt any lessons and abused the temporary release privilege afforded to him.

Conneely with an address at Bothar Bui, Inverin, Galway, was brought in custody before the court on Monday where pleaded guilty to drink driving, and driving without insurance and a licence at Bodkin roundabout, Headford Road, on September 20, 2010.

Garda Brendan Dooher gave evidence that at 3.30am he was on patrol in the Headford Road area when he spotted a car, with keys still in the ignition, “in the middle of Bodkin Roundabout”. He added that a number of road signs had been extensively damaged by the defendant’s car which had crashed into all of them.

Conneely was subsequently arrested on suspicion of drink driving, under Section 49 of the Road Traffic Act, and conveyed to Galway Garda Station where an intoxiliser reading of 61mgs per 100ml of breath was given. The court also heard that Conneely had been driving while disqualified.

Inspector Ernie White further explained that the defendant has 16 previous convictions which include one for drink driving, three for driving without insurance, and four for dangerous driving. The most recent conviction took place in March of this year and Conneely received a jail sentence as well as a 10 year disqualification.

Conneely’s solicitor said that her client, who is currently serving a sentence, had been out on temporary release for the weekend and had been out drinking with friends last Sunday. She added that the whole family was taking the matter seriously.

“Temporary release is a chance for rehabilitation and for him to connect with family. Instead, he was out knocking down signs, thankfully it was signs, and not a person,” said Judge Fahy.

Referring to the carnage on the nation’s roads, Judge Fahy replied that if he was drunk he should have got a taxi.

“It’s very very serious. Thankfully no one was injured and gardai are vigilant in this area, as well as in others. The gardai should be commended... It doesn’t look like he has learnt any lessons,” said Judge Fahy, before convicting Conneely and imposing a five month sentence for the drink driving charge, to be served on lawful termination of the sentence already being served, and disqualified him for 10 years.

A five month sentence and a 10 year disqualification, to run concurrently, were also imposed for driving without insurance while a €300 fine, payable forthwith, was imposed for having no driving licence.

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