By Isabel Hayes
A man who led gardaí on a lengthy high-speed chase along the M50, with his two small children in the backseat, has been jailed for six and a half years.
The 34-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his children, has 226 previous convictions, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.
He is currently serving a prison sentence for a petrol bomb attack on a house while its occupants were asleep inside.
The man pleaded guilty to a number of offences in relation to the events of March 15th, 2021, including endangerment, dangerous driving, criminal damage, driving without a licence and insurance, possession of a foil bag with intent to use it in a theft and refusing to give a blood or urine sample to gardaí.
A number of other offences were taken into account, including child cruelty and theft.
He had been disqualified from driving at the time of the offence, Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, told the court.
The man also pleaded guilty to taking part in the robbery of a Tesco Metro at Terenure, Dublin on September 14th, 2020.
In relation to the endangerment case, Garda Eoin Brennan told the court that gardaí were alerted to two thefts from Boots chemist in Dundrum shopping Centre in February and March last year.
On the day in question, the man was identified from CCTV footage as being the thief and gardaí noted the car he was driving was still in the shopping centre car park.
The man was stopped by gardaí as he tried to drive his car out of the shopping centre. In CCTV footage played in court, he could be seen driving over the centre median, avoiding the car park barriers and taking off at high speed.
The court was then shown about 20 minutes of CCTV footage of the man speeding towards the M50 and onto the motorway, leading gardaí on a lengthy pursuit during which he swerved between lanes and drove in the hard shoulder of the motorway.
His partner and his two children, then aged one and two, were in the car at the time, the court heard.
The man was a drug addict and refused to give gardaí a blood or urine sample after he was arrested. He had no driving licence or insurance.
His previous convictions include criminal damage, theft, burglary, attempted robbery, drugs offences, public order and road traffic offences.
In a letter which he read out in court on Tuesday, the man said he wanted to apologise to the court, to his partner and his children. “I was in a bad place with my addiction and didn't think of the consequences of my actions that day,” he said.
Guilt and shame
He said he would live with the guilt and shame of his actions that day for the rest of his life. He said he was now 13 months off drugs and very lucky to still have the support of his partner and family.
Defence barrister Aidan McCarthy BL, said the man's first memories as a child were of his father “beating his mother relentlessly”. He said the man left school in first year with no state exams or qualifications.
He will regret his actions that day “until the day he dies”, defence counsel told the court.
Handing down sentence, Judge Martin Nolan said the man had endangered himself, his partner, his children, the gardaí and other road users during the pursuit. He noted the man had a “long history of offending”.
“It seems easier for him to commit a crime than to rehabilitate,” the judge noted.
He handed down a sentence of six and a half years and disqualified the man from driving for 10 years.