‘Menace to society’ drunk driver jailed after hobbling away from crash

Stephen Collins had 85 previous convictions before hitting cyclist, throwing her into air

Stephen Collins (27), who has 85 previous convictions, drove at high speed under the influence of drink and drugs before hitting the cyclist, throwing her into the air, and losing control of his car. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Stephen Collins (27), who has 85 previous convictions, drove at high speed under the influence of drink and drugs before hitting the cyclist, throwing her into the air, and losing control of his car. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

An intoxicated disqualified driver described as a “menace to society” who fled a scene of “mayhem” after hitting a cyclist and colliding with another car has been jailed for five years.

Stephen Collins (27), who has 85 previous convictions, drove at high speed under the influence of drink and drugs before hitting the cyclist, throwing her into the air, and losing control of his car.

Collins’ car then hit the wall of a pub, before colliding head on with another vehicle, injuring the driver. Collins got out of the car and “hobbled” away leaving the two injured victims at the scene.

Collins, of North Circular Road, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to reckless endangerment and failing to offer assistance at Davitt Road, Dublin 12 on March 19th, 2016.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the accident had caused “some degree of mayhem” at the scene and that Collins had left despite there being obviously injured people.

He said Collins had a long history of offending and “no respect at all for the road traffic code.” He said Collins had become a “menace to society” and he was lucky no one was killed.

He noted Collins came from a dysfunctional background and had been affected by tragedies in his life. He took into account Collins’ guilty plea, remorse and hopes of reforming himself.

Judge Nolan imposed a five-year sentence and disqualified him from driving for ten years.

Sergeant Catriona White told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that witnesses described a silver Mazda driving at speed up Davitt Road. A cyclist ahead of the car began to turn right across a junction. The cyclist had a green light for her manoeuvre, while Collins was approaching a red light.

The speed limit was 50km/h and Collins was estimated to be driving at 80 to 90 km/h.

Sgt White said Collins was unable to react or respond safely and despite braking, he hit the cyclist throwing her into the air. The woman suffered a cut to her forehead where she hit the ground and the scar is still noticeable over her eye. The incident continues to effect her.

Collins lost control of the car, hitting the wall of The Marble Arch Pub before travelling sideways across the road to hit the kerb at the Luas tracks. He then collided head on with another car, shunting it into another vehicle and causing the airbag in the first car to activate.

The injured driver of the first car had to be cut from the vehicle due to a pre-existing back injury. Collins was described as “hobbling” away from the scene.

Sgt White said she had spoken to the injured man and he had been bewildered and shaken at how someone could cause an accident, look in the window at him and then leave him there.

A number of other people who had been in the car with Collins also left the scene. They were followed by a member of the public and identified to gardaí.

Collins was identified from CCTV as the driver of the Mazda, blood and saliva was also found on the airbag and door handle of the car.

Collins was later arrested and maintained his right to silence throughout Garda interviews.

Sgt White agreed with defence counsel Leo Mulrooney BL that Collins had been very intoxicated at the time in terms of alcohol and drugs.

Defence counsel said Collins had a difficult upbringing and had lost his father in tragic circumstances, which had a profound impact on him.

He said his client had asked him to express his apologies and said it had not been his intention to injure anyone. He said there was no reality to Collins offering compensation to his victims.

Collins’ counsel handed in a psychological report to the court outlining Collins’ personal history and circumstances. He said Collins had the support of his partner.