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Man loses €60k claim over garda chase crash he couldn't remember


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Martin O’Donnell leaving court after losing his case yesterday

Martin O’Donnell leaving court after losing his case yesterday

Martin O’Donnell leaving court after losing his case yesterday

A man who had been drunk and could not remember a high-speed garda chase the morning after his 40th birthday has lost a €60,000 compensation claim in court.

Martin O'Donnell, who denied he had been involved in an all-night drinking celebration, told Judge John O'Connor he did have drink taken when a friend and neighbour offered him a lift at 10am on October 15, 2015. He was 40 on the day before.

He told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday he had no memory of a high-speed chase through roundabouts near Blanchardstown to escape gardaí.

It ended in a head-on collision on the wrong side of the road with a Range Rover and a serious head gash that required 10 stitches.

Conor Kearney, for the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland and FBD Insurance, told him in cross-examination he was a serial road traffic offender and claimant.

Gunshot

Mr O'Donnell agreed he had been treated for frontal gunshot wounds to his lower limbs, abdomen and chest in 2001 and again in 2003 when he had been shot in the lower limbs and back.

He also agreed he had been injured in a knife and machete attack to his head and left arm in 2004 as well as in road traffic accidents in 2009, 2010, two in 2012, another in 2014 and three, some still pending, in 2015.

The 44-year-old had already obtained €7,000, €10,000 and €14,000 pay-outs but in some cases had not taken a claim, the court heard.

Mr O'Donnell, of St Philomena's Park, Ballycoolin, Blanchardstown, said he had no memory of having threatened to hit Detective Garda Stewart Gleeson over the head with a full two-litre bottle of vodka, which he had in the car with him, before smashing it on the ground. He told the court his friend and neighbour Patrick Mongan had given him a lift in a Ford Fiesta car which, Mr Kearney pointed out, had no number plates, was entirely unroadworthy and had a smashed windscreen.

He said Mongan had not been drinking with him and another friend earlier that morning.

Detective Garda Gleeson said he and Detective Garda Bernard Connaughton had been in an unmarked garda car when he recognised Mr O'Donnell and Mr Mongan pass him in a car.

He suspected the vehicle was stolen as the top of the driver's door had been bent outwards as if forced open in a break-in, the court heard.

When the blue lights had been switched on, indicating that the Fiesta should stop, the car had taken off at high speed, sometimes reaching 130kmh in 60kmh zones and forcing other vehicles to take evasive action, the court was told.

When it crashed on the wrong side of the road Mr O'Donnell and another passenger, John Maughan, had been taken to hospital by ambulance. Detective Garda Connaughton arrested Mr Mongan.

Fatality

Judge O'Connor dismissed Mr O'Donnell's €60,000 compensation claim and he told him to pay the legal costs of the court case as he had been drunk and had got into a car driven by a man he knew to be very drunk and to have no insurance and had failed to co-operate with gardaí.

"I really have to compliment the gardaí for the manner in which they intercepted this vehicle and probably avoided a fatality taking place," Judge O'Connor said.

The Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland's acceptance to indemnify uninsured drivers says that a claimant shall co-operate fully with the gardaí and anyone entering a vehicle they know to be uninsured shall be excluded from cover for injury.

Herald