A MAN ‘fuelled by alcohol’ led gardaí on a high-speed chase from Castlebar to Newport, a district court has heard.
Stephen McDonnell (31) of Boughadoon, Crossmolina was almost four times over the legal drink driving limit when he was arrested over 30 minutes after the chase began.
Mr McDonnell appeared before last week’s sitting of Castlebar District Court where he pleaded guilty to the offences. He also pleaded guilty to two separate charges of drink driving.
Inspector Naomi De Rís told the court that on March 17, 2018 gardaí were on mobile patrol at around 2am in Castlebar when they came across a Vauxhall van, being driven by Mr McDonnell in an erratic manner. The van progressed slowly up Main Street before turning sharply into Hoban’s Car Park, where it increased its speed when the patrol operated the blue lights.
The van continued out the Newport Road, where it passed through two sets of traffic lights while ‘ignoring the cars at the junctions’.
The court heard that Mr McDonnell continued towards Newport driving at speeds ‘in excess of 120km per hour’, overtaking a vehicle while crossing the ‘hatch markings’ on the road and driving on the incorrect side of the road.
As the van entered the town of Newport, it came around a corner on the incorrect side, drove in excess of 130km per hour and crossed over the bridge on the outskirts of the town ‘on both sides of the road’.
As the van continued up Castlebar Street, Newport, towards Mulranny, Garda John Melia picked up the chase, overtook the van and tried to slow Mr McDonnell down, which forced Mr McDonnell to swerve at speed into a slip road where he came to a halt.
Garda Melia then ordered Mr McDonnell out of the car and to lie on the ground, to which he refused and lunged at the garda. Garda Melia was forced to use his baton twice before Mr McDonnell eventually lay down and was arrested at 2.32am.
A blood sample provided at Castlebar Garda Station indicated 186mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
The court also heard that on May 5, 2018 gardaí were on mobile patrol in Knockthomas, Castlebar at 1.10am when they recognised Mr McDonnell driving a different van. After stopping the car they noticed Mr McDonnell was ‘incoherent and slurring his words’.
He later provided a blood sample of 207mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
On June 14, 2018 at around 7.48pm gardaí were called to a traffic collision in the rear car park of a shop on the Westport Road, Castlebar. When they arrived they were told by the injured party that a van reversed into the side of their car twice, before taking off.
The damaged totalled €500 and after a taking a description of the man and making inquiries, gardaí called to the house of Mr McDonnell who said he couldn’t remember hitting the van.
He later failed to produce his licence and proof of insurance.
Defending solicitor Tom Walsh said his client was ‘totally fueled by alcohol’ during the incidents but that he ‘taken the right steps’ since for help.
He said his client has one previous conviction, for drink driving back in May 2018, for which he received a three-year disqualification.
He asked the court if it would consider the help of the probation services as his client was in the process of enrolling in a ‘half-way house’ rehabilitation service for alcoholism.
Judge Fiona Lydon agreed to Mr Walsh’s request and adjourned the matter until September 4.