Man (48) spared jail a sec­ond time

The Argus - - NEWS -

A Dun­dalk man given a sus­pended sen­tence for ac­cel­er­at­ing through a garda check­point and dam­ag­ing two pa­trol cars has been spared jail a sec­ond time de­spite a DPP ap­peal.

Jar­lath Hig­gins (48), of Cara­ban, Ravens­dale, Dun­dalk, Co Louth, pleaded guilty to dan­ger­ous driv­ing at the Táin Bridge and crim­i­nal dam­age to two pa­trol cars at Faugh­art Lower in the early hours of Novem­ber 18, 2015

The Court of Ap­peal heard that Hig­gins was driv­ing his Re­nault Me­gane north when he en­coun­tered a garda check­point near the Táin bridge. He had al­co­hol ‘ on board’ but was not charged with drink driv­ing. A uni­formed garda sig­nalled the Re­nault to stop but Hig­gins ac­cel­er­ated. The other gar­daí present be­lieved Hig­gins de­lib­er­ately drove at their col­league, the court heard.

Sirens were ac­ti­vated while Hig­gins’ ve­hi­cle con­tin­ued north. His car ‘vi­o­lently fish­tailed’ be­fore he was blocked in and he ag­gres­sively revved his en­gine be­fore he was re­strained. One of the gar­daí was se­ri­ously in­jured and €7,500 worth of dam­age was caused to the two pa­trol cars.

He was given wholly sus­pended sen­tences of two years and five months and dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for three years by Judge Michael O’Shea on May 4, 2017.

Hig­gins was back in court on Mon­day fac­ing a re­view of sen­tence brought by the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions. How­ever, the three judge Court of Ap­peal was not sat­is­fied that his sen­tence was ‘un­duly le­nient’ and dis­missed the DPP’s ap­peal.

Giv­ing rea­sons for the court’s de­ci­sion t lastFri­day, Mr Jus­tice John Ed­wards said the sen­tenc­ing judge sus­pended the sen­tences on ac­count of Hig­gins’ sig­nif­i­cant mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors in­clud­ing his pre­vi­ous good char­ac­ter and his good em­ploy­ment record. He said Hig­gins, who had con­sumed al­co­hol, pan­icked when ap­proach­ing the check­point and over­re­acted in a grossly dis­pro­por­tion­ate way. He had a low risk of re­of­fend­ing and had not driven since the in­ci­dent.

Mr Jus­tice Ed­wards said the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions sub­mit­ted that some cus­tody was re­quired but the Court of Ap­peal was not per­suaded in the cir­cum­stances of this case.

He said Hig­gins now had a crim­i­nal record and the sen­tence that was im­posed still sent out a mes­sage to the com­mu­nity that his of­fend­ing con­duct is to be ‘ de­plored’.

If it wasn’t for his lack of pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions and sub­stan­tial mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors, Mr Jus­tice Ed­wards, who sat with Mr Jus­tice John Hedi­gan and Mr Jus­tice Pa­trick Mc­Carthy, said Hig­gins would have been re­quired to serve the two years im­pris­on­ment.

Coun­sel for the DPP, Kevin Se­grave BL, sub­mit­ted that Hig­gins’ sus­pended sen­tence was ‘un­duly le­nient’ be­cause of the speed­ing in­volved, the al­co­hol and the fact that Hig­gins had am­ple op­por­tu­nity to ‘ cease and de­sist’ long be­fore he dam­aged the two pa­trol cars. It was ap­pro­pri­ate to jail some­body who ‘ takes on the State in this fash­ion’, late at night and with al­co­hol on board, Mr Se­grave sub­mit­ted.

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