A Balla driver who failed to stop for a garda and was chased for over 10k has been convicted of careless driving.
Shane Nestor (32) of Rathduff, Balla, had been charged with dangerous driving, but when the prosecuting garda referred to his driving as ‘completely reckless’, it was reduced to careless driving by Judge Deirdre Gearty.
Garda John Murphy told the court he was parked at The Square in Balla in the early hours of January 21, 2017, when he observed Mr Nestor leave The Rendezvous pub, get into a car and drive away. He said Mr Nestor left Main Street, Balla, at speed in the direction of Mayo Abbey.
Garda Murphy said he pursued Nestor for 5km, to Mayo Abbey and another 2km towards Ballyglass before he caught up behind Nestor’s car. He said Nestor was ‘travelling at speed’, and while Garda Murphy put his sirens and blue lights on after Mayo Abbey, Nestor did not stop.
He said Nestor then turned off onto a narrow country road with grass growing up the middle, but ‘continued to drive at speeds in excess of 80km/h’. He added there was no room for two cars to pass if a car came in the opposite direction. Garda Murphy had radioed for back-up.
He said at Rathnacreeva, Ballyglass, Nestor drove onto a larger road without stopping and subsequently turned off onto a smaller country road again.
He said Nestor eventually stopped, got out of the car and ‘made a run for it’.
Garda Murphy said he told Nestor to stop, which he did. He said Nestor asked him, “Why are you following me?”
He said Nestor could not explain why he had refused to stop. Garda Murphy said the driving was dangerous because of the ‘narrow road’ and because Nestor drove onto the larger road at Rathnacreeva ‘at speed’ and ‘did not yield’.
However, Garda Murphy went on to say that the driving was ‘completely reckless’, which translates to careless, rather than dangerous, driving.
Defending solicitor Evan O’Dwyer said the driving on the night was not dangerous, as there was no evidence of any other cars on the road.
Judge Deirdre Gearty convicted Nestor of the lesser charge of careless driving. The court heard Nestor had seven previous convictions, including a driving disqualification for two years in 2013 for having no insurance.
Evan O’Dwyer said his client ‘panicked’ on the night when he saw the garda car. He told Judge Gearty that his client is currently doing a course in Westport and needs his license.
Judge Gearty convicted Nestor, fined him €500 but issued no disqualification.