A judge has described driving at speed as a disease among young people in Donegal.
Judge John O’Hagan said he does not see the type of dangerous driving carried out by young people here in any other part of his northern circuit court area.
He said the consequences of dangerous driving can be seen in the case of Martin McDermott of Raphoe who was jailed for seven years for causing the death of Garda Gary McLoughlin.
He was speaking at the sentencing of Stephen McLaughlin of Ballyarl, Killygoron who appeared in court after being convicted of dangerous driving. McLaughlin was appealing the severity of a two month prison sentence for dangerous driving.
“We saw only last week what can happen when a car is driven at excess speed of up to 180kmph. People get killed - dead,” he said.
“I see the evidence of this type of thing every night when I am going back to my hotel, doughnuts on the road. It is plain for the eyes to see.”
The court heard McLaughlin’s Honda Civic was seen by gardaí racing another driver at Lisnaree, Kilross on April 8th, 2010.
Garda Marcus O’Dowd was manning a garda checkpoint on the road when he heard the speeding cars approaching. He had to manoeuvre the garda patrol car off the road as the cars passed.
The gardaí pursued the two cars at speeds of up to 180kmph but they lost sight of them. They only caught up with the two drivers when they pulled in at a filling station.
McLaughlin had two 17-year-old girls in the car which had a bald front right tyre and no NCT. When approached by Garda O’Dowd and asked about his driving McLaughlin replied: “It was kind of stupid, alright.”
Defence counsel Seán Mac Aodha said McLaughlin fully understood the serious nature of the offences and what the consequences could have been.
Judge O’Hagan said he wished young people would come into court and see the consequences of dangerous driving offences.
He asked Mr. McLaughlin’s parents to pass the message onto other parents that such driving cannot be tolerated.
The judge imposed a six-month prison sentence which he suspended for two years. McLaughlin was also disqualified from driving for two years and fined €5,000.
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