Tipperary courts: Homeless man who was living in a car banned for no insurance

Defendant had gone for petrol to heat himself

Tipperary Star reporter

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Tipperary courts: Homeless man who was  living in a car banned for no insurance

Judge Elizabeth MacGrath: disqualified driver who was living in a car for driving without insurance

A man who was living in a car because he was homeless has been given a suspended jail sentence at Nenagh Court for driving without insurance.

Shane Monks of Ballyshane, Kinnity, Birr, pleaded to the offence at Raheens, Birr Road, Roscrea, on April 15, 2019.

The court heard that Mr Monks was observed in the forecourt of a garage by a garda who was on his way into work.

The garda waited for Mr Monks to leave the garage and stopped him.

Mr Monks was also charged with possession of cannabis on the same sate after the garda found the drugs, valued at €200, in the car. A weighing scales was also found.

His solicitor, David Peters, told the court that Mr Monks was a “serious drugs user” at the time and the scales were used to check the drugs he was buying.

Mr Monks also pleaded to possession of drugs and sale or supply or drugs at Grove Street, Roscrea, on March 23, 2019.

The court was told that Mr Monks was detained for a search and ran away.

He was pursued and caught by the gardaí.

While he was being searched, cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy tablets were found, along with a weighing scales.

Mr Monks was found to have cannabis valued at €131; cocaine worth €31, and tablets valued at €880.

The court heard Mr Monks had 21 previous convictions.

Mr Monks told the court in evidence that in relation to driving without insurance, he had been living in the car as he had been made homeless.

“I went to get petrol. It was cold and I was using the engine for heating. I understand that I should not have been driving,” he said.

He said he had been going through a “hard break-up” at the time and was “struggling with drugs”.

He had fallen out with his family and not been in contact with them for a couple of months.

Mr Monks said that he had been clear of drugs from 2016, but had relapsed. However, he was now engaged in group Zoom meetings for drug abuse.

“I need help,” he said. “I just want to get my life back on track.”

Mr Monks, who said he was €14,500 in debt, hopes to get work as a tiler.

“I want to move away from the town and get a new address,” he said.

Judge Elizabeth MacGrath, while noting that Mr Monks had been homeless, said that did not justify driving.

She jailed him for four months for driving without insurance, and disqualified him from driving for four years.

However, she suspended the sentence for two years on condition Mr Monks enter a bond of €250.

Judge MacGrath adjourned all the drug charges to October 10, for a probation report, saying she was concerned about the quantity of tablets Mr Monks had in his possession.

She said that what was in his favour was that he had overcome drugs and there was “nothing in the pipeline”.

But she warned Mr Monks that he was on a “thin line”.