Man (36) who kicked and bit a garda after being caught drunk driving avoids jail

Mark Donlon (36), of no fixed abode, was handed a three month prison sentence, suspended for a period of 18 months

Mark Donlon of no fixed abode leaving court

Mark Donlon

Liam CosgroveSunday World

A homeless man who threw punches, kicked and bit a garda on the hand after being caught at the wheel more than four times over the drink driving limit while also under the influence of cannabis, has walked free from court.

Mark Donlon (36), of no fixed abode, was handed a three month prison sentence, suspended for a period of 18 months at a sitting of Longford District Court today following an incident in Ballymahon, Co Longford on December 15, 2021.

The court heard the accused was stopped by Gardaí Allan Doherty and Rachel Carlin who had been conducting a checkpoint in the south Longford town.

Sgt Mark Mahon, for the State, said upon responding to a call of a car allegedly spotted driving dangerously from Mullingar, both officers tracked down the accused where they spoke with Mr Donlon.

Judge Bernadette Owens was told after a strong smell of alcohol was observed from the driver's breath, Garda Doherty attempted to arrest the Westmeath native.

Seconds later, the court was told, Mr Donlon resisted arrest and suddenly "swung at gardaí", resulting in a struggle.

"The accused kicked gardaí a number of times and bit Gardaí Doherty on the hand," said Sgt Mahon, revealing also how Mr Donlon was both "extremely abusive and aggressive" towards both officers.

The accused was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and brought to Granard Garda Station where he was later charged after a blood sample was taken.

That sample, it was revealed, returned a reading of 217mg per 100ml of blood, a specimen the court was told carried a three year disqualification.

Ireland's drink driving laws stand at between 51mg to 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, putting Mr Donlon at four times over the legal limit to drive.

Mark Donlon

A further drug driving charge was also issued after Mr Donlon was found to have cannabis in his system when stopped by gardaí.

Mr Donlon was later charged with assaulting both gardaí alongside six counts of dangerous driving.

Defending solicitor Mark Cooney said his client, who had no previous convictions, was undoubtedly coming before the court "with a bang in every regard".

He said Mr Donlon had been drinking the night before and was also "extremely volatile" when appearing in court in Athlone following the incident.

Mr Cooney also revealed how Mr Donlon's demeanour on the day had been so unstable that he even found it difficult to take instructions from him.

A probation report was handed into the court, which Mr Cooney said his client was willing to abide by.

He also insisted, despite the gravity of the incident, Mr Donlon had indicated an intention to enter a guilty plea at an early stage while a week spent in custody on the same charges had been especially taxing on him.

Judge Owens described the incident as being at the "higher end of seriousness" to come before the District Court.

She said while Mr Donlon was clearly in a "very agitated state" on the day of the incident and had no prior transgressions to his name, the court could not overlook the severity of the incident.

She handed down three month concurrent prison sentences, suspended for 18 months for both assault charges.

Fines totalling €500 were also issued for both drink and drug driving offences with Mr Donlon also ordered to hand in €500 by way of compensation.

A four year driving ban was likewise handed down for one of the six dangerous driving charges along with a €200 fine.

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