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02 Oct 2022

Bench warrant issued for man who made fun of Garda after fleeing crash

The man failed to appear for his case at Falcarragh District Court

Letterkenny court house.

Letterkenny court house.

A bench warrant has been issued for a west Donegal man who made fun of an officer when he telephoned a Garda station after fleeing the scene of an accident.

Peter O’Donnell, a 34-year-old with an address at Knockfola, Brinlack was charged with a number of road traffic matters.

O’Donnell was not present when the case was mentioned at Falcarragh District Court this week.

Garda Niall Maguire informed the court that the accused was notified of his date in court by registered post on February 2, 2022.

Gardaí were on patrol on the N56 between Gortahork and Falcarragh at 8.50pm on Friday, February 12, 2021 when they came across a crashed BMW which was blocking the road.

There was no-one present in the vehicle and it appeared that the accident had just occurred.

Gardaí detected a strong smell of stale alcohol and opened bottles of whiskey were found in the car. Gardaí also located a bank statement in the front of the car.

Colleagues in the PSNI confirmed that the vehicle was registered to O’Donnell, who had an address in Aberdeen. They confirmed that the vehicle was not insured and the MOT had expired in December 2020.

There was no damage to any third party property, Garda Maguire said, adding that it appeared that the car was ‘traveling at speed’ in the direction of Falcarragh.

The car crossed the centre line before hitting a banking on the far side, spinning 360 degrees and ending up on its own side of the road. The front airbags were deployed with ‘medium to severe’ damage caused to the front of the car.

At 3.10am, Garda Maguire received a call to Falcarragh Garda Station from O’Donnell, who made light and fun of him. “He was quite happy that he got away,” Garda Maguire told the court.

On 18 February, O’Donnell contacted GardaI to say that he wanted to get property out of the vehicle. Garda Maguire told O’Donnell that he wished to speak with him in person.

In a caution statement, made on February 19, at Falcarragh Garda Station, O’Donnell said he was driving from Bloody Foreland to Falcarragh to get food. He told Gardaí that he ‘spun out of control’, but did not know what had happened.

“I remember the airbag surrounding me,” he said. “I don’t remember how I got away but I remember getting a taxi home from Falcarragh.”

A lawful demand was made for the production of a certificate of insurance, a driver licence or learner permit and a certificate of road worthiness. These were not produced.

Judge Deirdre Gearty said she was ‘absolutely satisfied’ to convict O’Donnell on all matters.

Judge Gearty issued a bench warrant for his arrest for the purpose of sentencing.

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