Driver jailed to 'protect society' after 148 road traffic offences

Stock photo: PA

Andrew Phelan

A SERIAL motoring offender was caught driving without insurance for the 36th time which a judge described as "close to a record".

Lee Swift (26), who had a total of 148 convictions for road traffic offences was jailed to "protect society from his driving".

Judge John Hughes said he would suspend two months of a maximum six-month sentence, but Swift, who was already in jail, said: "I'm not taking your suspended sentence."

The accused, of Kilcarrig Avenue in Tallaght, pleaded guilty to uninsured and unlicensed driving.

Dublin District Court heard gardaí stopped him driving a black Ford Mondeo at Russell Square, Tallaght on January 2, 2019. He had no licence or insurance.

Swift had a total of 239 prior convictions, 185 of which were from before January 2019, when he was already under a driving ban. 148 of the convictions were for motoring offences, including 35 counts of uninsured driving.

Swift had a very difficult past and a significant drug addiction for a long period, his lawyer said.

He had no particular explanation for the driving offences other than his severe drug addiction at the time.

He was now dealing with this problem in custody where he was serving a five-month sentence imposed at Cloverhill District Court in June.

His lawyer asked Judge Hughes not to extend Swift's current sentence.

Judge Hughes said there was little doubt that the accused's difficult life had led him to serious recidivist behaviour.

However, he said, society had also had to witness 239 offences by Swift and his 35 prior convictions for driving without insurance "must be close to a record".

Swift had been convicted 54 times since January 2, 2019, he remarked, saying "it's a truly appalling record".

Judge Hughes said Swift had "totally ignored the opportunities given to him" by the courts.

The judge said he was imposing the maximum sentence to "protect society from Mr Swift's driving", but would suspend two months of it, for two years.

The condition was that he was not to drive any vehicle.

Recognisances were fixed in the event of an appeal.

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