Two units of An Garda Síochána – including a jeep carrying armed officers – pursued a teenager driving at high speed through suburbs on the south side of Cork city and today the sentencing judge said someone could have been killed.
Judge Olann Kelleher made this comment at Cork District Court as he imposed a jail term of nine months on 19-year-old Colin O’Leary of Rossa Avenue, Bishopstown, Cork.
“Not only was it very dangerous but someone could have been killed,” Judge Kelleher said.
Sergeant Gearóid Davis said the most serious incident – to which the teenager pleaded guilty today – occurred a year ago on January 12 2020.
At 3.25am the car driven by O’Leary failed to stop and the armed support unit followed the car. A second unit of gardaí joined in this pursuit and at one stage managed to get ahead of the car. An attempt was made slow it down to a controlled stop by reducing its own speed in front of the car.
However, Colin O’Leary reversed the car and then drove on to its incorrect side of the Rossa Avenue/Melbourne Road area. His car mounted a footpath and crossed a green area at Leesdale.
O’Leary increased the speed of his car dramatically at Kenley Close and drove through a red traffic light. He drove as far as the Cork Business and Technology Park where he jumped out of the car and ran around behind a warehouse.
He was arrested at the scene and prosecuted for offences including dangerous driving and having no licence or insurance. O’Leary pleaded guilty to those charges and one of drug driving where he was blood-tested and found to be under the influence of cocaine, cannabis and Benzodiazepine.
The same defendant pleaded guilty to other driving offences today also, including one related to the early hours of April 6 2019 where he crashed a car at the Kinsale Road roundabout.
And there was a third driving incident – where again he had no insurance or licence – at Inniscarra on September 22 2019. On that occasion he was also driving at speed and narrowly avoided collision with another car.
Frank Buttimer, solicitor, said that all of the offences, to which O’Leary pleaded guilty today, occurred within 12 months and that he had no previous convictions.
Mr Buttimer referred to significant disruption of the teenager’s education when he suffered from alopecia and ended up leaving three different secondary schools.
“He fell between various stools and ended up homeless. Then he began to get his act together and he got employment but all these matters (driving and other incidents) caught up with him and he had to pay the piper. He apologises to the gardaí for making them have to chase him and all the dangers and risks he caused. He intends to resume his education. He is still young,” the solicitor said.
Judge Kelleher said he would take all these background matters into consideration but added, “He was running amok for 12 months".