Five jailed after sulky race on main Cork-Limerick road

YouTube screen grab of two men racing each other on horse-drawn sulkies on the Cork-Limerick road as gardaí attempt to stop them

YouTube screen grab of two men racing each other on horse-drawn sulkies on the Cork-Limerick road as gardaí attempt to stop them

Sat, Feb 9, 2013, 00:00

Five men have been sentenced to five months in jail each for dangerous driving during a sulky race on the main Cork-Limerick road, which subsequently became a YouTube sensation with close to 400,000 hits.

Judge Olan Kelleher said he was imposing the five-month sentence on each of the five to indicate the gravity of the matter and the lack of respect they had shown for other road-users when racing two horse-drawn sulkies on the main N20 near Blarney on May 5th, 2012.

Judge Kelleher also disqualified all five from driving for six years, after they each pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on various stretches of the road near Blarney during the course of the 8am, two-kilometre, pre-planned race between Christy’s Filly and Russian Lady.

Judge Kelleher imposed the jail terms and disqualifications on Bernie McDonagh (20), The Halting Site, Nash’s Boreen, Cork; Jimmy O’Brien (28), Innishannon Road, Fairhill, Cork; and Patrick O’Brien (25), of Woodford, Rossa Avenue, Cork, all for dangerous driving offences.

He also jailed and disqualified Danny Stokes (46) and Christopher Roche (41), both of St Anthony’s Park Halting Site, Knocknaheeny, Cork, for dangerous driving while he adjourned sentence on Stokes’s son James (18) for a similar offence pending a probation report.

He also imposed €300 fines on McDonagh, Patrick O’Brien, Roche and Daniel Stokes for obstruction of the roadway and noted all six accused were “no strangers to the courts”, with 74 previous convictions between them, mainly for road traffic matters.

Sgt Ken O’Sullivan showed Judge Kelleher a five-minute recording of the race that had been posted on YouTube, and there was silence in Cork District Court as judge, gardaí and defendants watched the clip.

The race began when the two sulkies, who had been heading towards Cork, did a U-turn on the N20 at Shean Upper near Blarney, and a fleet of cars and vans that had been lined up on the hard shoulder swung in behind them effectively blocking the outward lane, said Sgt O’Sullivan.

Gardaí managed to pull in one of the sulky racers but the other sulky driver, Patrick O’Brien continued racing the horse for a further kilometre or more reaching, speeds of up to 30km/h sometimes on his wrong side of the road as he swerved to avoid traffic.

Sgt O’Sullivan said it was fortunate nobody had been injured during the incident given the road was quite busy at the time and up to 20 oncoming motorists had to take evasive action at various stages and many expressed concern at what had happened.

He agreed that all defendants were co-operative with gardaí after the race ended.