04 Oct 2022

Man who poked fun at Garda after crash gets driving ban

The man was brought before Letterkenny District Court on foot of a bench warrant

Court gavel

A 34-year-old Donegal man who made fun of an officer when he telephoned a Garda station after fleeing the scene of an accident has been disqualified from driving.

Peter O’Donnell, with an address at Knockfola, Brinlack was charged with a number of road traffic matters, arising out of an incident on February 12, 2021.

O’Donnell failed to appear before Falcarragh District Court last week when his case was called.

At 2.43am on Sunday, April 24, 2022, O’Donnell was arrested when Gardai observed the accused outside a licence premises.

O’Donnell made no reply when cautioned by Gardaí. O’Donnell was kept in custody and brought before Monday’s sitting of Letterkenny District Court.

The court heard that O’Donnell has 24 previous convictions dating back to 2007.

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.

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, but these were not produced.

Solicitor for O’Donnell, Mr Patsy Gallagher, said his client had ‘put his head in the sand and hoped it would go away’.

His client, Mr Gallagher said, what been away working in England before coming back prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. O’Donnell hoped to start a mechanical engineering course at ATU, Mr Gallagher added.

“This man has been in custody since Saturday night and it’s not an experience he wants to repeat,” Mr Gallagher said.

Judge Deirdre Gearty fined O’Donnell €300 and disqualified him from driving for two years.

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