A judge was dissuaded from sending a man to jail as it would further add to the bill that he had cost the tax payers.
Ardee Court was told that James Clements a father of three from De La Salle Cresent, Ardee took the keys of a car from a safe and drove it away from a driveway and crossed in front of a taxi. The owners told that the collision rendered both vehicles write-offs, with the taxi driver who was self employed calculating his loss at over €20,000.
Judge Grainne O’Neill decided to provide the 35 year-old part-time tree surgeon with the opportunity to do 100 hours community service instead of serving three months in prison in respect of the un-authorised taking of the car.
She made this conditional on the defendant paying €1,800 by November 14 to compensate the car owner for his loss.
She directed the defendant is fined €250 for dangerous driving and that he also receive fines of €200 for not having insurance or a driving licence, and banned from driving for two years.
The court heard that the un-authorised taking of the vehicle took place on February 22 last year. The defendant took the car keys when the owner was in the house of the partner of the defendant.
Gardai came across the collision on the Drogheda Road outside the town. The defendant admitted he had no insurance or a driving licence and that the car wasn’t his.
The owner told the court he parked the vehicle in the driveway of the house, and got a phone call that it had been crashed up the road.
The car was a write-off with damage totalling €1,800 caused. His car insurance nearly doubled.
The taxi driver recalled that he picked up two passengers at Saint Mary’s FC and was proceeding into the town when the defendant crossed in front of him without warning . He was concussed and his passengers had taken out personal injury claims.
He obtained a personal loan from family and friends to get another vehicle to resume working. The Judge said he needed to take legal advice on learning that his claim to the MIBI was rejected.
Defence barrister Irene Sands said the defendant was incredibly apologetic. He had no history of this type of offence although he had previous convictions for minor offences the most recent of which was some time ago.
She asked the Judge to allow the defendant serve his debt to society within the community.
Judge O’Neill pointed out that the tax payer now had to pick up the tab for the defendant’s criminal activity. He had come to court with one hand as long as the other. The offence warranted a custodial sentence but all that would be doing was “stacking up another bill” for the tax payer.
Miss Sands said that the defendant was willing to pay for the €1,800 damage to the stolen car, but would need a number of months.