Disqualified driver who crashed uninsured, unroadworthy and overloaded car moves to appeal

Disqualified driver who crashed uninsured, unroadworthy and overloaded car moves to appeal

A disqualified driver who was “two-and-a-half times over the limit” when he crashed an uninsured, unroadworthy and overloaded car has moved to appeal his 10 year prison sentence for dangerous driving causing death.

Brian McDonagh (25), of Toombeola, Roundstone, Connemara, had pleaded guilty at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing the death of Thomas McDonagh (19) in a single-vehicle incident near Kylemore, Connemara on February 2, 2014. He was also convicted of driving with no insurance.

Judge Rory McCabe sentenced McDonagh to 10 years imprisonment with the final two suspended on July 7, 2015 and disqualified him from driving for 20 years. The maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing death is 10 years imprisonment.

Opening and appeal against sentence today, McDonagh's barrister, Vincent Heneghan BL, said he accepted the circumstances of the case were “not good” but submitted that the sentencing judge erred in imposing the maximum 10 year sentence.

Comparator cases seemed to indicate sentences in the region of five years, Mr Heneghan submitted.

He said the Circuit Court judge did not consider a psychiatrist's report which found McDonagh “very remorseful”.

Contrary to what the Circuit Court judge had said, there was “genuine remorse”, Mr Heneghan submitted, and his client's guilty plea was indicative of that also.

Mr Heneghan further submitted that the sentencing judge did not take account of his client's background and his abuse of alcohol which McDonagh had acknowledged since the accident.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sinead Gleeson BL, said there were “a lot” of aggravating factors in this case which distinguished it from others.

McDonagh had been on a pub crawl, Ms Gleeson said and was two-and-a-half times over the limit.

He had been disqualified from driving at the time and had no insurance. She said the car was not roadworthy as it had no valid NCT and was overloaded with six people.

Ms Gleeson said McDonagh was using the handbrake to slow down and navigate bends.

The evening had been described as “bleak”and there was a single white line on the road.

She said McDonagh was uncooperative at the scene and had not admitted to being the driver.

Subsequently, McDonagh was arrested and interviewed. He gave a “no comment interview”, Ms Gleeson said but provided a statement in which he admitted to being the driver after that fact had been determined, she said.

When gardaí had come to take a blood sample from him in hospital, he told them 'you won't catch me this time,' Ms Gleeson said.

McDonagh had 14 previous convictions including 11 for road traffic matters and he was subsequently convicted for driving while disqualified for an offence committed two months after the fatal crash, Ms Gleeson said.

Reserving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the court hoped to be in a position to deliver its decision on Friday next.