Judge threatens jail after driving offences

Judge John Neilan has threatened to jail the 20-year-old he recently convicted of what he called “statutory rape”.

Jason Higgins, The Square, Castlepollard was given an adjourned 11 month sentence in January after he pleaded guilty to having non-coercive sex with a girl who was just months short of her seventeenth birthday.

He had been just 19 at the time.

When he appeared before the judge at the latest sitting of Mullingar District Court charged with a number of driving offences, Judge Neilan warned that further offences will see him activate that 11 month sentence and a further similar sentence for taking a car.

The court heard that a friend of Higgins had gotten permission from his mother to drive her car and parked it outside a church on June 21 last year, planning to leave it there for the night.

However, after having a couple of drinks there was a row and Higgins was later seen driving the car in the direction of Collinstown.

He crashed the car on the Oldcastle Road and a subsequent test showed an alcohol level of 61mg/100ml breath.

The young man admitted to taking the car, having no licence and no insurance, as well as being drunk while driving.

Inspector Jarlath Folan told the court that Higgins also has convictions for previously taking a car, for theft and for having no insurance or licence.

Mr Louis Kiernan reminded the court that his client Higgins had a very difficult childhood and his life became more difficult when the older brother he worked with died in tragic circumstances.

He also drew attention to Higgins’ intellectual challenges and his special schooling.

Judge Neilan imposed an 11 month sentence for taking the car, and concurrent five month sentences for drunk driving and having no insurance and he adjourned all of these to June 17 for a community service report and to see if further charges due to come before the court are finalised.

He also wanted to see if the Director of Public Prosecutions wishes to re-enter the defilement case in view of the suspended sentence imposed in January.

He told Higgins that the court had endeavoured to deal with his cases in as lenient a way as possible to motivate him to take control of his life.

He said it was a matter for Higgins himself to see that the sentences are not activated when he comes before the court in June, adding that he had been given the benefit of much wisdom in the past.

He warned Higgins that if he engages in any further criminal activity, gardaí can re-enter the cases against him and he will activate the sentences.


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