A man has been jailed and disqualified from driving following a fourth conviction for no insurance at last week’s Longford District Court sittings.
Hughie Donoghue, 2 Mill Street, Drumlish, Longford, was also convicted of possession of an offensive weapon, a slash hook, which was discovered during a search of his car when he was stopped by gardaí in February of this year.
Giving evidence in court last week, Garda Leo Shiel explained that he and Garda John Hanley and a number of other gardaí were attending an incident at Lana Aoibheann, St Michael’s Road Longford, where a disturbance between two feuding families was taking place.
“We went onto St Michael’s road and I noticed a car leaving. I stopped the car. Hughie Donoghue was driving,” said Gda Shiel.
“I informed him that I was going to search the car. On searching the car, right down on the right hand side of the driver’s door, there was a slash hook,” he added, producing the object for the court to see.
“I asked him what it was for and he said it was for cutting timber. I asked why he had it in the front of the car and he couldn’t answer me. I demanded his licence and insurance but he didn’t have any. I arrested him for possession of an offensive weapon and charged him for no insurance and possession of an offensive weapon.”
Prosecuting sergeant, Mark Mahon, explained that Mr Donoghue has 48 previous convictions and was in custody for other matters.
“He was convicted of assault causing harm in Portlaoise District Court on June 6, 2019, and given eight months. He has three previous convictions for no insurance, one for threats to kill, two for endangerment. His previous convictions range from 2012 to 2019,” said Sgt Mahon.
“So this is his fourth no insurance charge,” said Judge Marie Keane.
“He also has one other dangerous driving conviction from May 18, 2019 for an offence on March 17, 2017. He was disqualified for two years and fined €250,” Sgt Mahon revealed.
Solicitor for the defence, Frank Gearty explained that his client was a young, single man, who had recently turned 24.
“Unfortunately, he had a very troubled life as a child. His parents were unable to manage him and he left home when he was 13. These events are very upsetting. But he’s found a much more stable position in life now,” said Mr Gearty.
“He’s been living with his sister in Athlone and in a stable situation for 15 months. He’s supporting her and her two children.
“It’s a case of him having to account for his past misdeeds but he has turned a corner and, if released, he will be going back to Athlone.
“Gda Shiel stopped and intercepted the car before it got to any battlefield. While some have no business with a slash hook, he has some history working on a farm with his cousin so it wasn’t quite a travesty of an excuse.
“He acknowledges that he has a very poor record and he’s going to be disqualified and that the present rules prohibit him from bringing an application for the removal of the disqualification order, which will be a significant factor going forward in what are the best years of his life.
“There is contrition and recognition. He’s falling on his sword and asking you to recognise that he has got his life in order.”
Addressing the judge, Mr Donoghue explained, “I turned my life around. I’m off the drugs and I’m getting my life back on track.”
Judge Keane noted Mr Donoghue’s “appalling record of road traffic offences”.
“He has no regard for his safety or the safety of others. This is his fourth no insurance charge,” she said, sentencing Mr Donoghue to four months in prison and disqualifying him from the road for seven years.
“For the firearm, that’s a shocking offence. There’s no good reason to have it where he was. One can only assume interception by gardaí prevented anything from happening,” she added, sentencing him to four months to run concurrently with the previous sentence before granting a destruction order for the slash hook.