Thurles district courthouse
A Thurles driver who sped past gardaí near Urlingford, mounting the kerb on to the grass, before speeding off, was given a four-month suspended prison sentence at Thurles District Court, and banned from driving for a total of eight years.
At a previous sitting of Thurles district court, in September, evidence was heard that Darren Greene, of 7 Monakeeba, Thurles, was observed by two gardaí driving in Tubrid, Woodsgift, Co Kilkenny, on November 9, 2019.
Garda Ashley Lowery gave evidence that he had received a report of a driver between Freshford and Urlingford who was driving without a driving licence or valid insurance.
At Tubrid, the gardaí in a patrol car encountered a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, matching the description given.
The driver of the black Opal Astra, Darren Greene, was signalled to stop. Mr Greene was observed approaching the patrol car slowly, but at about 20 yards away, the gardaí recognised Mr Greene, who then “took off to speed around us”.
Judge Elizabeth MacGrath heard that Mr Greene “made a clear attempt” to evade the gardaí. “He mounted the grass verge on the right hand side of the patrol car and took off at speed,” said the garda. The patrol car was turned around to give pursuit to Mr Greene but by the time they had turned around, Mr Green had gone completely out of sight.
Both gardaí were satisfied that it was definitely Mr Greene driving the car, heard the judge.
The gardaí turned back and took photos of the area where Mr Greene had sped past them on the grass verge. There were “fresh tyre marks” on the ground.
One of the gardaí had dealt with Mr Greene a number of times, and went to visit his home after the incident. Mr Greene denied driving the vehicle.
A garda invited Mr Greene to make a voluntary statement. “He said he did not see the point” and declined to do so. However, to his credit, Mr Greene did attend a garda station the day of the incident but also refused to make a statement over the phone, said the garda.
Witness Geraldine Neary was the registered owner of the vehicle. Ms Neary said Mr Greene actually owned the vehicle and frequently used it. She had left the keys in the car that day. They had been partners but had not been in a relationship for “quite some time.” Ms Neary said arrangements were made to get rid of the car. She had not seen him taking the car. “My brother’s insurance was on the car.”
Ms Neary said she and Mr Greene had broken up just weeks beforehand. The car had been parked on the side of the road, and the keys were in, as they were trying to sell it. Ms Neary said she had “no idea” where it went.
Solicitor Colin Morrissey said Mr Greene was “adamant” it was not him driving the car on this occasion, but another person. “I have no doubt whatsoever that it was Darren Greene in the vehicle,” replied a garda in court.
Garda Thomas Loughnane gave evidence supporting Garda Lowery’s version of events. He said he recognised the driver as Mr Greene. The car had been parked overnight, and the suspect had no driving documents. “The car came against us on the road. It came to a full stop about 20 yards away. The driver was Darren Greene from Monakeeba,” who was then residing in Freshford. While there was no collision with the wing mirror, it was “very close”.
“To be honest, I was very surprised he took off. I would have known him and vice versa.” Garda Loughnane said he was “100% certain” it was Darren Greene in the car. “Any doubt” asked Inspector James White. “No doubt,” replied garda Loughnane.
Mr Greene did “90 to 100kph” in the sudden acceleration, “from where we are to the courtroom door”.
Mr Greene told the court he was in a traffic accident the night before a garda visited him concerning the incident and could not have driven the car. His leg had “ballooned” up due to an injury, and he needed crutches to walk. “Hand on my heart, I could not have driven it.” Mr Greene maintained that the gardaí had mixed him up with another person and had the incorrect date for the incident.
Inspector James White said the gardaí have a record for another accident on November 4, but the alleged offence took place on November 9, “five days later”. “You are telling mistruths,” the Inspector told Mr Greene.
Judge MacGrath adjourned the case to November 17 to confirm the dates involved. In that court, it was confirmed that a garda had taken a statement from Mr Greene regarding a crash on November 4.
Mr Greene’s leg was crushed, and there was a record he was hospitalised. Mr Greene was “confused” as to when he went into hospital, said a garda.
Judge MacGrath said both gardaí had not changed their minds and both gardaí were “adamant” it was Mr Greene driving the car. Judge MacGrath found the facts proven and convicted Mr Greene of dangerous driving, having no insurance and no driving licence.
Mr Greene has 47 previous convictions, 37 for road traffic offences, including convictions for dangerous driving and careless driving.
Judge MacGrath imposed a €100 fine and banned Mr Greene from driving for 4 years for dangerous driving. Mr Greene was sentenced to 4 months prison for having no insurance and no driving licence, suspended for 2 years on condition he enter into a Sec. 99 bond of €250, and was further banned from driving for 4 years.
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