Man jailed for ‘manic’ driving on Cork city quays

Martin O’Connor broke lights before crashing into taxi, leaving driver with three broken vertebrae

A man who overtook a garda car on the wrong side of the road before driving through three sets of red lights and then seriously injuring a taxi driver in a collision, has been jailed for two years.

A man who overtook a garda car on the wrong side of the road before driving through three sets of red lights and then seriously injuring a taxi driver in a collision, has been jailed for two years.

 

A man who overtook a garda car on the wrong side of the road before driving through three sets of red lights and then seriously injuring a taxi driver in a collision, has been jailed for two years.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Martin O’Connor (30), from Tircullen, Tallow, Co Waterford, had gone drinking that day after splitting up with his girlfriend.

O’Connor pleaded guilty to two counts of endangerment and single counts of dangerous driving, drink driving and criminal damage at various locations between Lavitt’s Quay and Anderson’s Quay in Cork city on September 3rd, 2017.

Garda Linda O’Keeffe told the court she was in a patrol car with a colleague on Lavitt’s Quay at around 4.48am when O’Connor pulled up behind them in his white VW Golf.

He reversed, pulled out and accelerated past, overtaking them on the wrong side. The car then broke a number of red lights before colliding with a Ford Mondeo taxi which was coming over a bridge.

O’Connor, who had only been back on the road for a month after serving a three year ban for drink driving, was not wearing a seatbelt, had music blaring from his car and was very aggressive as he attempted to leave the scene.

He shook his fist at gardaí after telling them he had consumed just three pints, Garda O’Keeffe said. However, he returned a reading of 285mgs of alcohol per 100mls of urine, some four times the legal limit.

Remorse

Garda O’Keeffe said O’Connor had never once shown any remorse for his action and had never made any inquiry on the night or since as to the well being of the taxi driver, Mihia Stoian (37).

Mr Stoian told the court he remembered nothing about the crash as he was knocked unconscious but woke up to find firefighters cutting the roof of his taxi to free him. He said the crash had a serious impact on him and his family as he suffered three broken vertebrae, and could not work or hug his six-year-old son for months.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Stoian said he had to use up his savings to support his family while injured and that his wife also had to work extra hours to make up for the loss in his earnings.

O’Connor took the stand to apologise for his actions and said he deeply regretted his actions on the night and the injuries sustained by Ms Stoian.

He had been working as an agricultural contractor but had since lost his job, he said.

“I’m sorry for my actions. I don’t know what I was doing. I’m sorry for anyone I hurt. I was just after going through a break-up, my head wasn’t in the right place,” said O’Connor, who added that his current partner was due to give birth to their first child on Sunday.

Treatment

Niamh Stewart BL, for O’Connor, said her client was an alcoholic who had since gone for treatment and had pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity. Contrary to the garda evidence, O’Connor was deeply remorseful, she said as she asked Judge Seán Ó Donnabhain to be as lenient as possible.

The judge said he had no doubt O’Connor was remorseful but he had difficulty understanding how he could have gone drinking and driving at the time given he was just back on the road after a ban.

“This was manic driving in a city centre area, albeit late at night, but he showed a complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others,” he said.

He said there was a high level of endangerment to O’Connor’s driving and he sentenced him to four years imprisonment but suspended the final two years. He disqualified him from driving for 10 years in light of his previous ban.