Garda car rammed in pursuit of drunk driver

A 20-year-old man who failed a roadside breath test, took off at speed, rammed a Garda patrol car and was then chased by three patrol cars, was before Castlebar District Court on Wednesday where Judge Mary Devins sentenced him to jail for three months.

On April 22 this year, Simon McElhatton, Archway Flats, Main Street, Ballybofey, Co Donegal, was sitting in a navy Fiesta in the forecourt of Avivo, Lisduff, Claremorris, where he was observed by gardaí. Garda Coen approached the vehicle and formed the opinion that the defendant had consumed alcohol. There were eight unopened beer cans on the floor of the car and the defendant told Garda Coen that he “had drunk earlier but was fine to drive”.

McElhatton failed a roadside breath test and when asked to step out of the car drove off down the N17, where he was pursued by gardaí who managed to stop him by blocking the road. However McElhatton rammed the Garda car, reversed, and took off. Three Garda cars pursued the defendant before a fault with the defendant’s vehicle brought him to a stop and he was arrested at 1.35am for drink driving. A subsequent urine analysis showed 242mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine.

Solicitor Aidan Crowley said that the 20-year-old was off drink for several months before the incident, drank that night as he had split up with his girlfriend, and after the defendant failed the roadside breath test McElhatton panicked and drove off.

Mr Crowley said that McElhatton is on heavy medication for depression and is currently serving a prison sentence in Castlerea.

Judge Mary Devins convicted and fined the defendant €1,000 for drink driving and disqualified him from driving for three years. For dangerous driving McElhatton was convicted and fined €1,000; disqualified from driving for five years concurrent, and sentenced to three months in prison consecutive to his current sentence.


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