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14 Aug 2022

Man jailed after expired tax detection leads to high-speed pursuit

The man was brought before Letterkenny District Court this week

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A Letterkenny man has been jailed for seven months and banned from driving for six years after leading Gardaí on a high-speed pursuit.

John Sweeney, 27, of Burnside, Letterkenny, appeared before Letterkenny District Court this week in connection with driving offences on January 18, 2022.

Gardaí detected a black Audi A6, on which the tax had expired, driving on the Windyhall road at 5.15am.

Sweeney continued driving and undertook another vehicle at Glencar Irish. The court heard that the car ‘hopped over speed bumps’ and failed to stop at a junction on Circular Road.

Sweeney overtook two cars at high speed on De Valera Road before continuing at excessive speed onto the Port Road, driving towards the Dry Arch roundabout at 160km/h in a 60km/h zone.

Gardaí followed the vehicle to the border at Bridgend, where Sweeney crossed the border.

Gardaí called to the home of the registered owner of the vehicle and Sweeney was nominated as the person driving.

At 10.10pm on the same date, Sweeney was spotted by Gardaí in Newtowncunningham driving the vehicle. Officers followed the car, which again travelled at high speed, before he was stopped at 10.30pm.

Sweeney was also before the court over an incident on April 21, 2022. Gardaí responded to a call about an intoxicated male in the Long Lane area of Letterkenny.

Sergeant Jim Collins said Sweeney was ‘barely able to stand’ when he became highly aggressive. Sweeney shouted ‘rat bastard’. A nurse saw Sweeney and thought he needed assistance. Sergeant Collins told the court that Sweeney was ‘kicking out at everyone present’.

Sweeney was further charged with a public order offence on May 2, 2022. At 4.23am at Port Road, Letterkenny, Gardai noticed a highly-intoxicated Sweeney and stopped to speak with him. Sweeney called Gardaí ‘fucking scumbags’.

“Gardaí tried to assist, but he continued in hat vein and was arrested,” Sergeant Collins said.

Solicitor for Sweeney, Mr Rory O’Brien, said his client was ‘a man who fell into difficulty at a very early age’.

“He cracked under pressure and started drinking again,” Mr O’Brien said. He wasn’t taking care of himself and lost touch with reality a bit. He fell off the wagon again and began drinking.

“The driving incident was unfortunate to say the least and Mr Sweeney wishes to apologise. He recognises the wrong that he committed and there is no excuse for it.”

Mr O’Brien told the court that Sweeney had got into custody at his own application and had been there for the last two months.

“He has served a significant period of time in custody,” Mr O’Brien said.

Judge Éiteáin Cunningham jailed Sweeney for seven months and disqualified him from driving for a period of six years.

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