Drink driver who paid €26k cash for car gets legal aid

Limerick judge 'noted with interest' free legal aid for man

A judge ‘noted with interest’ that a man got free legal aid without question for being involved in a high-speed drunken road chase — in a car he bought for €30,500 from a main dealer, of which €26,300 was paid in cash along with a trade-in car.

During what was described as a horrifying chase through Limerick City, Martin McDonagh, who is unemployed, sped at up to 140km/h, running red lights, driving on the wrong side of road, and becoming airborne twice on bridges as he tried to evade arrest.

Limerick Circuit Court heard that McDonagh, 28, of the Unofficial Halting Site, Coonagh, Limerick, was disqualified from driving and on bail at the time. One of his previous convictions arose from ramming a Garda patrol car after another high- speed chase when he was driving a Mercedes.

McDonagh has pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally or recklessly causing serious risk of harm or death.

He has also pleaded guilty to charges of assault and intimidation arising out of another incident.

The chase, which lasted 30 minutes, started at around 10.30pm on January 21, 2015, after Garda Kevin Mulryan, a member of the armed Regional Support Unit, noticed McDonagh driving a powerful VW Golf which, it transpired, was worth €30,500.

McDonagh stopped near the Absolute Hotel, and was approached by Garda Mulryan, who knew him. McDonagh immediately took off at speed.

Garda Anne-Marie Hassett gave a graphic account of the chase which ensued through city streets, before ending on a country road on the outskirts. On a number of occasions, pedestrians had to jump to safety and other motorists were forced to take evasive action.

He continually sped on the wrong side of the road, through road junctions and through red lights.

Garda Hassett, who arrested him, said this incident marked a significant escalation in his behaviour. A blood sample gave an alcohol reading of 118 — the legal limit is 50.

Adjourning sentence to next Friday, Judge Tom O’Donnell remanded McDonagh in custody.

He added: “I don’t want to sound facetious, but I note with interest that legal aid was unchallenged in a case where this man paid over €26,000 for a car.”


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