Donegal man jailed for dangerous driving and gets lifetime ban

Friday 26 April 2013 11.01
Cathal Dunleavy pleaded guilty to 16 charges at Letterkenny District Court
Cathal Dunleavy pleaded guilty to 16 charges at Letterkenny District Court

A 23-year-old Donegal man has been jailed for five years and disqualified from driving for life for endangering the life of a garda and dangerous driving.

Cathal Dunleavy of Glenvar, Kerrykeel, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty to 16 charges at Letterkenny District Court.

The charges include 12 of dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving with no insurance and refusing to give a specimen of breath.

The charges arose out of an incident on 18 October last year, when Dunleavy refused to stop for gardaí.

They pursued him at speeds of up to 150km/h from Letterkenny to Fanad.

A video of part of the pursuit was shown in court today in which the Opel Corsa being driven by Dunleavy was seen speeding along narrow and twisting country roads at up to 120km/h.

It was weaving from one side of the road to the other and going round blind bends on the wrong side of the road.

Cans and bottles could be seen being thrown from the car and one object struck the windscreen of the garda car.

At one point, having disabled the brake lights, the Opel came to a complete stop, reversed and rammed into the pursuing garda car being driven by Garda Patrick Geraghty.

Garda Geraghty had said he thought he was going to be seriously injured.

There were three other people in the car with Dunleavy, including a 16-year-old pregnant girl.

The court was told that Dunleavy had 59 previous convictions, including 12 for dangerous driving, two for assault, seven for burglary and four for stealing cars.

One of the convictions relates to the night Garda Robbie McCallion was struck by a car in Letterkenny. He later died in hospital.

Dunleavy was jailed for stealing a car during the incident, but not the car that struck Garda McCallion.

Judge John O'Hagan described the driving in October 2012 as absolute madness and said it was a miracle no one was killed or seriously injured on the night.

He said it was reckless, senseless and highly dangerous.

He described Dunleavy’s attitude towards gardaí as one of contempt and said he had to send out a message that people cannot drive like this and get away with it.

He sentenced him to five years in jail for endangering the life of Garda Geraghty and six months each on all the other charges.

The sentences will run concurrently.

He said he felt Dunleavy was not entitled to ever be on the road again and disqualified him from driving for life.