Motorists were forced to avoid a man driving his Mercedes car the wrong way on the Limerick to Ennis motorway, a court has heard. At Ennis District Court yesterday, Patrick Cotter (54), Church Street, Bandon, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to six separate charges of dangerous driving in relation to a series of incidents along a 41km stretch of motorway from Cratloe to Crusheen on the morning of June 18th last. He was banned from driving at the time.
He received a 30-year driving ban in 2012 at Limerick Circuit Court. His 208 previous convictions include 19 offences for drink-driving and nine hit-and-run offences.
Judge Patrick Durcan praised Garda motorcyclist John Reidy for risking his life in a high-speed chase of Cotter.
Garda Reidy said that he caught up with Cotter as he was driving in the correct northbound direction near Ennis. “I pulled level with him and the speed I was doing at the time was 180km per hour. I looked at him and he looked at me . . . The window was down in his car and he was smoking a cigarette.”
Garda Reidy kept up the chase for 16km and said that Cotter’s driving was “highly dangerous”.
Cotter eventually came off the motorway north of Ennis at Crusheen.
Warnings were broadcast on Clare FM on the morning of the incident advising motorists that there was a driver driving the wrong direction on both sides of the motorway linking Limerick to Ennis.
Solicitor for Cotter Stiofán Fitzpatrick said that the actions of his client “were those of a seriously ill man. He was not out for a cheap thrill on the day.”
Judge Durcan said he had in mind an eight-month prison term for Cotter unless the Probation Service could deliver a very specific formula that would prevent a recurrence. He remanded him on bail for sentencing on December 17th.