Drug driver who reached speeds of 160kmh and nearly hit cyclist during gardaí pursuit avoids jail
Judge Orla Crowe said she was going to give Mark Fagan (21) ‘the chance of a lifetime’ because of the very good progress he has made
A drug driver who reached speeds of up to 160kmh as he was being pursued by gardaí has been given a four-year suspended sentence.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Mark Fagan (21) has turned his life around since the 2020 incident.
Fagan of Galtimore Park, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty to endangerment, dangerous driving, driving without insurance and possession of cannabis on July 7 and 8, 2020.
He also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, drug driving and possession of cannabis on July 16, 2020. Fagan, who does not hold a driving licence, has no previous convictions.
Passing sentence, Judge Orla Crowe said she was going to give Fagan “the chance of a lifetime” because of the very good progress he has made.
Judge Crowe sentenced Fagan to a consecutive term totalling four years for the offences before the court but suspended them in full on strict conditions including that Fagan engage with the Probation Service for two years.
He also has to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for four years and provide urine analysis as requested by the Probation Service. Fagan was disqualified from driving for four years.
During the sentence hearing in July 2022 a prosecuting garda told the court it was raining heavily on the night of July 7, 2020 and there was a lot of surface water.
While on patrol with colleagues in an unmarked car he saw a car approach at speed and it failed to stop despite gardai activating their car lights and siren. The car drove at increasing speed and switched off its light while driving through red lights.
During the pursuit the car almost collided with a cyclist, at times drove on the incorrect side of the road, went the wrong way around a roundabout and drove at speeds between 100 and 120kmh through junctions on extremely wet roads. There was not much other traffic on the road.
The court heard he drove through “possibly five” red lights and reached a maximum speed of 140kmh during the pursuit involving four or five garda cars which lasted 10 to 15 minutes.
The car came to a stop when a driver got in front of him and Fagan was arrested. Cannabis was found in his possession.
The prosecuting garda agreed with Oisin Clarke BL, defending, that they had no trouble with him once he was arrested and he was co-operative.
In relation to the July 16 incident, Garda Ciaran O’Neill told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, he and a colleague were stopped at traffic lights in a patrol car when a car pulled up beside them, the driver looked at them then immediately accelerated to such a degree that it caused the vehicle’s wheels to spin.
Despite gardaí activating their sirens, the car accelerated away from them and through a red light.
During the pursuit, which lasted about 15 minutes and involved up to four garda cars and the Garda helicopter, he over- and undertook cars dangerously, and on the wrong side of the road, forcing oncoming drivers to brake or swerve to avoid collisions.
Fagan reached a maximum speed of 160kmh, which occurred in 60kmh zone. He narrowly avoided a head-on collision with a patrol car before crashing into bollards.
He absconded but was arrested and sample of blood taken in which controlled drugs were found. Fagan was on bail for the first series of offences when this was committed.
Mr Clarke said his client was aware what had happened was incredibly dangerous and he was lucky not to be facing a more serious charge.
Counsel said Fagan had not had the best start in life and had grown up in a situation where drug use was rampant and there were no rules, restrictions nor anyone to turn to. He said Fagan used cannabis to reduce stress due to his home life and cocaine to help him come out of his shell.
He asked the court to take into account the fact he has since dealt with his risk factors. He said he had taken part in a residential programme and was engaging well with the services available to him. He said Fagan had been offered help which he grabbed with both hands.
He said his client had been assessed as at low risk of reoffending in the absence of future heavy drug use.
He submitted this was “one of those exceptional cases” and asked if it would benefit society for him to lose the structure he has gained. He said his client had been drowning but was thrown a life buoy and brought slowly to shore. He asked that Fagan be allowed on shore and rejoin productive society.
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