Man who took car on ‘test drive’ crashed it multiple times

Driver was three times over drink-driving limit when he left garage, court hears

Court told that Martin Daly, Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co Clare, was behind the wheel of the car for 70 minutes. Photograph:  Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Court told that Martin Daly, Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co Clare, was behind the wheel of the car for 70 minutes. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


A man who took a car from a Co Clare garage forecourt without permission for “a test drive” was apprehended less than 90 minutes later having crashed the car multiple times.

At Ennis District Court on Wednesday, Insp Tom Kennedy said Martin Daly (56) was opportunist when he took the 11 CE registered Peugeot 207 from the forecourt at O’Sullivan & Hansbury Motors in Ennis at 12.20pm on February 10th last when he saw the keys in the ignition.

The car was up for sale by the garage at the time and Mr Daly – later found to be more than three times over the alcohol driving limit – was apprehended by gardaí at 2pm two miles from the garage driving the car back to Ennis.

Insp Kennedy said that during his 70 minutes behind the wheel, Mr Daly, Kilrush Road, Ennis, drove the 11km out to the village of Kilmaley and also took in the village of Inch.

The inspector said that “during Mr Daly’s spin, he had crashed perhaps more than once” causing multiple areas of damage to the car. As a result of Mr Daly crashing the car, one of the car’s alloy wheels was damaged with other areas of damage including a hole in the tyre; the front bumper; a part of the bumper was missing while the right wishbone and the right shock were bent.

Insp Kennedy said the bill for the damage to the car came to €2,361. Gardaí were able to identify the person who took the car, using CCTV and through the garage, as Mr Daly was living locally.

The inspector said that when gardaí apprehended Mr Daly at Dromeen East outside Ennis, he had a bottle of vodka in the car passenger seat which he proceeded to attempt to drink in front of gardaí.

“Mr Daly was arrested for drink-driving and it came back 255 millilitres in blood, which is quite high.”

In the case, Mr Daly has pleaded guilty to the unauthorised taking of a car, criminal damage, driving without insurance and drink-driving on February 10th last.

Solicitor for the accused, Tara Godfrey, said: “Mr Daly wasn’t necessarily stealing a car from O’Sullivan and Hansbury – he was taking it for a test drive for a relation who was interested in the car.”

She said Mr Daly was a single man who recently returned to Ireland having spent 34 years in the UK. She said he “has a dreadful drink problem that has got nothing but worse. As time marches on, he finds himself in a position more and more consumed by drink.”

Ms Godfrey said that on the day, Mr Daly “was very drunk and shouldn’t have gone near the car. It was the worst plan possible. Mr Daly has never abused the road traffic laws and he can’t apologise enough for what has happened.”

However, Judge Patrick Durcan said Mr Daly faces jail unless he comes up with a proposal to provide compensation to the garage.

“I want to see that some proposal is made to reimburse the garage and if there is not, this is a case for a prison sentence. It is a matter for this man to talk to his family and come back with proposals.”

He adjourned the case to next Wednesday for Mr Daly to provide compensation.