Jail for disqualified driver who crashed into garda car and taxi

By Brion Hoban 

A disqualified driver who crashed into a garda car and a taxi during a high speed pursuit has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Lee O’Brien (32) with an address at Cooley Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three counts of endangerment, one count of dangerous driving and one count of driving without insurance on January 9, 2018 in Dublin City Centre.

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The court heard the chase ended when O’Brien crashed into a taxi, which caused that vehicle to spin and collide with a pole.

The father-of-three has 122 previous convictions, the bulk of which are for road traffic matters such as drunk driving and dangerous driving.

On Wednesday Judge Melanie Greally described the incident as an “extremely serious episode of highly dangerous driving”.

She said fortunately there were no resulting serious injuries.

She noted that O’Brien has a long history of addiction with little in the way of employment.

She further noted that a report from the Probation Service was not positive, but accepted there could have been miscommunication involved.

The judge said the endangerment offences lay in the upper range on the scale for such offences.

She imposed a three-and-a-half year sentence and banned O’Brien from driving for ten years on his release.

She backdated the sentence to May last year.

Sergeant Brendan O’Halloran told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that at 1.30am on the morning in question a garda patrol unit noticed that a red Nissan Micra seemed to hesitate upon the driver spotting the gardai.

The car sped off when the gardai approached and the unit gave pursuit. O’Brien drove quickly down the wrong direction of several one-way streets and through red traffic lights.

O’Brien appeared to lose control of the car on North King Street and stalled. When he turned the engine back on he reversed towards the patrol car that had also come to a halt and collided with it while two gardai were still in the car.

Another patrol car took up the pursuit, which came to an end on Queen’s Street when O’Brien collided with the taxi.

O’Brien, his passenger and the taxi driver all had to be removed from the vehicles and were brought to hospital where they were treated for minor injuries.

Sgt O’Halloran interviewed O’Brien and he admitted that he had been banned from driving at the time of the incident. He accepted all of the charges and said he was “genuinely sorry”.

Sgt O’Halloran agreed with Karl Monahan BL, defending, that O’Brien had had significant difficulty with drug use. He is on 20ml of methadone per day while in custody and is attempting to break free of his addiction.

Mr Monahan said his client had “got a fright” when he saw the patrol unit and drove away as he was disqualified from driving at the time. O’Brien was intoxicated during the incident.

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