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Man who parked car on M50 before causing 'mayhem' at Dublin Airport has sentence cut

CourtsBy Sunday World
Petricia Lucaci
Petricia Lucaci

A man who abandoned his vehicle on the M50 and walked for several hours along the motorway to Dublin Airport where he caused “mayhem” assaulting people and hijacking a car has had his jail term cut on appeal.

Petrica Lucaci (25), a Romanian national with an address at Lower Dominick Street, Dublin 1, had pleaded guilty to the unlawful seizure of a vehicle, attempted unlawful seizure of a vehicle, assault, assault of a peace officer, assault of two persons acting in aid of a peace officer, dangerous driving and two counts of endangerment on October 7, 2014.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment with the final year suspended by Judge Terence O'Sullivan on May 11, 2016.

Lucaci successfully appealed his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that the “out of character” nature of the offending coupled the guilty plea and offer of substantial compensation deserved a greater suspended period.

He was accordingly resentenced to five years imprisonment with the final two-and-a-a-half years suspended.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Lucaci had been living in Ireland for three months working as a gardener but his wife was obliged to remain in Italy due to a serous illness.

On the date in question, his Volkswagen Polo broke down on the M50. He abandoned the car and walked along the central median of the motorway for several hours until he reached Dublin Airport.

At the airport, he shouted at a vehicle to stop and threw his steel cap boots at the car. He ran after the car, grabbed the door handle and shouted 'get out of the car' at the driver.

Having failed to gain entry he walked back to Terminal 2 where he approached another man and demanded the keys to his car. In an entirely unprovoked attack, Lucaci punched him twice.

When the man attempted to defend himself, he was kicked to the chest. Lucaci took his keys and drove off.

He struck a taxi driver, lifting him onto the bonnet of the car. Fortunately he was not seriously injured, the judge said.

The car was then driven at high speed, breaking red lights and at one time driving down the wrong side of the road.

It was pursued for over 7km by gardaí before Lucaci was finally apprehended in Ballymun. The gardaí had to pepper spray him, Mr Justice Mahon said.

One of the investigating gardaí acknowledged that Lucaci's behaviour was bizarre and he was not acting under the influence of any intoxicants. He had no previous convictions in either Ireland or Romania.

Counsel for Lucaci, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that the sentence imposed was excessive and that the sentencing judge failed to take sufficient account of Lucaci's personal circumstances.

Mr Justice Mahon said this was a “difficult and troubling case” and the Circuit Court Judge also found it to be so.

He said the Circuit Court judge wanted to arrive at a sentence which would reflect the “mayhem”caused by Lucaci, the fear and trauma inflicted on individuals at Dublin Airport and his “reckless efforts” to avoid being apprehended.

Mr Justice Mahon said personal problems and stress can never be an excuse for assualting, threatening and terrorising members of the public.

He said the five year headline sentence was appropriate. However, the court identified an error in the decision to suspend 12 months.

The out of character nature of the offending, Lucaci's guilty plea, the offer of substantial compensation and his low risk of re-offending deserved a greater portion of the sentence being suspended, the judge said.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, re-sentenced Lucaci to five years imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half years suspended.

He was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for the suspended period and undertook to be so bound.