A man who caused a motorcycle crash while fleeing from gardaí has received a fully suspended sentence.
Craig White (24) was spotted by a garda while driving a stolen motorcycle on a footpath and ultimately caused a crash after driving through a junction, causing the other motorcyclist to be propelled off his bike over the handlebars.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that this man sustained an injury that needed to be operated on and his motorcycle was written off.
White with an address at Cappagh Drive, Finglas, pleaded guilty to endangerment, criminal damage, failure to remain at the scene and driving without insurance at Ratoath Road, Finglas on July 11th, 2017.
He also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on the same date at Ratoath Drive, Finglas, and to theft at Spar, Cardiffsbridge Road, Finglas on February 2nd, 2018. He has 12 previous convictions, including convictions for dangerous driving and driving without insurance.
Garda Alan Barry told Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, that on the date in July 2017, he was the observer in an unmarked patrol car when he saw the accused man driving a motorcycle on a footpath in Ratoath Drive.
Gda Barry said his garda colleague shouted: “Craig stop the bike”, but the accused, who was accompanied on the motorbike by a passenger, instead accelerated while still driving on the footpath as gardaí activated their siren and took up pursuit.
White drove from one footpath to another, ignoring a stop sign and a yield sign. His bike collided with a VW Polo which sustained minor damage that was ultimately covered by its insurance.
White drove through a junction which caused another motorcyclist, who had been driving safely, to collide into the side of White's bike. The other motorcyclist, a courier named William Murray, was propelled off his bike over his handlebars.
Mr Murray sustained an injury to his right elbow which later had to be operated on. His bike was written off and he suffered an estimated loss of earnings of over €13,000.
White managed to escape gardaí, though his motorbike was later found. The bike, which did not have a registration plate, was later deemed to have been stolen in May 2017.
Gda Barry said that on the date in February 2018, the accused man entered a shop where he ordered a chicken fillet roll and grabbed a sports drink. He then left the shop without paying for either item.
Fitness to plead
The garda agreed with Aoife O'Leary BL, defending, that this offence would have been dealt with by summary disposal if not for a fitness to plead issue which had arisen when it was before the District Court.
Ms O'Leary said her client has since been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She said he spent six months in custody during which time he did not recognise his family members, including his mother.
Counsel said her client has no memory of the driving offences at this juncture and is not in a position to recall his time in custody. She said her client was stabilised with medication during a ten-month stay in a psychiatric unit of a hospital.
She said that since his release from hospital her client has been residing in a residential treatment centre for people with mental health difficulties.
Judge Elma Sheahan said White has not come to the adverse attention of gardaí since committing the theft offence.
Judge Sheahan said the offences were aggravated by their serious nature and his previous for similar offending. She said the mitigating factors included his significant mental illness and his efforts to remain on his medication and engage with his psychiatrist.
She said the court views that notwithstanding the seriousness of the offending, society in general is best served if the accused continues to receive the medical treatment he requires, so long as he does not reoffend.
Judge Sheahan sentenced White to three years imprisonment for the driving offences and four months imprisonment for the theft, but suspended the entirety of the sentences on strict conditions including that he continue to take his medication as directed.