A Congolese man who should have been off the road when attempting to give gardaí the slip in Edgeworthstown earlier this year has been jailed for four months by Judge Seamus Hughes.
Kevin Itimbo (30), 20 Aoibhinn Glas, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, was banned from driving when he was spotted pulling in along the mid Longford town's Main Street on May 7, 2020.
Garda Michael Fox said his suspicions were aroused after noticing the accused pull up a hood in a bid to conceal his identity.
He said after doing a loop of the town, accompanying officer Garda Philip O'Keeffe exited the car and approached the man to obtain his details.
Mr Itimbo, the court heard, proceeded to enter the town's SuperValu store where a further attempt was made to secure the defendant's driving documentation.
Garda Fox said Mr Itimbo quickly became “extremely irate” and made a dash for the exit door of the shop before being arrested and brought to Granard garda station for questioning.
Garda Fox added that during his detention, Mr Itimbo revealed at one stage of his belief he had no insurance.
The court was told the car allegedly driven by Mr Itimbo on the day of the incident had been registered to his partner at his home address.
Mr Itimbo, who was represented in court by defence counsel Maebh Fenton BL, said it was Garda Fox and not he who should have been in the dock for an alleged breach of his “constitutional rights”.
He said: “Judge, they assaulted me in the shop and won't provide the CCTV.
“I want to press charges against the garda.”
After a brief consulatation at the behest of Judge Hughes with her client, Ms Fenton said Mr Itimbo wished to proceed.
Under cross examination from Ms Fenton, Garda Fox insisted there was no doubt Mr Itimbo was at the wheel having exited the car from the driver's side.
“We did a loop of the town and as we came back down, the driver got out of the car, pulled up his hood and walked away,” he said.
Ms Fenton suggested her client was within his rights to continue walking along the street and into the shop.
Garda Fox, however, said every possible avenue was taken to try and procure Mr Itimbo's driving documentation, adding: “I am satisfied he was driving the car.”
The prosecution's case closed with the court being told Mr Itimbo had a string of previous road traffic convictions to his name, the latest of which came in February, less than three months before the Edgeworthstown incident.
That particular no insurance charge coincided in a 100 hour community service order being awarded against Mr Itimbo together with a two year driving ban.
Judge Hughes said on that basis and given the evidence heard, he had been left in no doubt as to Mr Itimbo's culpability.
He said the father of one had shown “little or no regard for the district court” and had “exhausted” every conceivable avenue open to him.
He invited Mr Itimbo to take whatever conviction handed down to him to a higher court jurisdiction and stated how two previous prison sentences issued at circuit court level was indicative of how serious circuit court judges had taken those earlier appeals.
In mitigation, Ms Fenton said her client had been resident in Ireland since the age of nine and though from Congo, was a Belgian citizen.
She said Mr Itimbo was currently in a long term relationship and was father to a four-year-old child.
She also added he had previously worked as a valeter and junior sales advisor with Audi in Dublin and would be willing to do a stint of community service having done so previously.
Judge Hughes, however, said a custodial sentence was an unavoidable inevitability, adding Mr Itimbo had been given the opportunity to change his plea and “hold his hands up” but refused.
“This man has learnt nothing,” he said, as he disqualified him from driving for four years and sentenced him to four months in prison on the no insurance charge.
An identical conviction was handed down for a Section 38 charge of having no driving licence at the time.
Mr Itimbo indicated he was going to appeal the severity of the sentence with Ms Fenton asking to fix recognisances in the event such a request was lodged with the circuit court.
They were set at €500 cash as Judge Hughes signed off on the case.