A man who proved “impossible to find” after taking up a string of bench warrants and who was eventually found hiding inside a mattress has been sentenced to ten months in prison.
Barry Murray, 39 Cluain Ard, Ardnacassa, Longford was brought before last Tuesday’s sitting of Longford District Court after his arrest the previous evening by Garda Liam Doherty.
Mr Murray had been before the courts charged with a series of road traffic offences relating to an incident at Ballinalee, Longford on March 4 2019.
On that occasion Mr Murray, who had been banned from driving for 15 years only nine months previously for driving without insurance, was charged with eight further road traffic offences.
Among them included driving while disqualified, no tax, no NCT and of failing to produce required driving documentation within ten days.
It was also found Mr Murray was caught driving again in May, this time at Barrack Street, Granard without holding a licence and of having no insurance.
A bench warrant was issued for Mr Murray’s arrest on June 11 2019 after he failed to appear.
A further warrant was approved last October when Mr Murray was absent from court when due to settle a €500 fine for no insurance.
The Longford man was similarly hit with a third bench warrant over a further failure to pay a court imposed financial penalty with Judge Seamus Hughes being told a total of €1,250 in fines issued to Mr Murray had yet to be paid.
In the witness box, Garda Doherty said the reason why Mr Murray had taken up so many warrants was because he had proven elusive to gardaí.
“It was impossible to find this man,” he said, as he went on to explain the events leading up to his eventual detection at a house which was also occupied by his father.
Garda Doherty said when he and a colleague, Garda Barry Gillespie arrived at the scene, Mr Murray’s father refused to let both officers inside.
After eventually securing access to the property a thorough search of the premises took place with no sign of the accused.
Garda Doherty said when efforts were made to search the attic, Garda Gillespie climbed a ladder only for it to be knocked to the ground in the ensuing melee and causing the officer to fall to the floor as a result.
Still, with no sign of Mr Murray attention switched towards a bedroom in the house and in particular a mattress.
It was there Garda Doherty said he found the accused hiding before arresting him shortly after 8:30pm.
Brid Mimnagh, defending, said Mr Murray was “anxious to get bail”, something prosecutor for the State Sgt Mark Mahon said gardaí would be strongly objecting to due to the defendant’s “warrant history”.
Swiftly dismissing the likelihood of bail being granted to Mr Murray, Judge Hughes was told Mr Murray would be pleading guilty to both no insurance charges and the ensuing speeding summons.
On the question of the outstanding €1,250 in fines owed, Ms Mimnagh said Mr Murray’s financial affairs were not in great shape and were made worse in that his father was due to go into hospital on Thursday.
“He (Mr Murray) owed money to the credit union and tried to pay it back,” she said, adding the loan had been used to set up a business.
Before giving his ruling on the case, Judge Hughes was told by Sgt Mark Mahon of Mr Murray’s criminal past which included 28 previous convictions.
Seven of those were for no insurance, five were for drink driving and one offence each for dangerous and careless driving.
The most recent conviction, he added, came at Longford Circuit Criminal Court on June 1 2018 for no insurance, an offence which resulted in a 15 year disqualification and a ten month prison sentence, suspended for five years.
“He (Mr Murray) went out driving twice subsequent to getting a ten month sentence suspended for five years,” said Judge Hughes angrily.
“I went on the road to see my kids in Granard,” replied Mr Murray.
“My ex wife is here (in court) and will explain that.”
Ms Mimnagh said Mr Murray was a 38-year-old father of four who was the sole and unpaid carer for his father.
“The reason he didn’t turn up was because he was afraid his father had no one else to look after him and it was a life and death situation,” she said.
Taking a dim view of those assertions, Judge Hughes said there appeared to be little wrong with Mr Murray’s father’s physical disposition when gardaí called round to look for his son less than 24 hours earlier.
“He was well capable of hitting a ladder with a grown man up on it,” said the judge.
“This is one of the worst cases I have ever come across.
“The reason he (Mr Murray) he didn’t show was because he knew this day was coming.”
A sentence of five months for the no insurance charge in Ballinalee on March 4 last year was issued along with an identical five month term for the same charge in Granard two months later.
Judge Hughes opted against issuing any further sanctions, remarking: “All the other summonses are really of no relevance from the point of view of the totality in this case.”
As such, those summonses were struck out.
A further 15 days in prison was also handed down for the fines which were still outstanding.