Drunk driver, 20, escapes jail after unborn baby dies

A judge yesterday told a 20-year-old motorist that his drunk and dangerous driving caused “the death of an unborn baby” of a pregnant garda.

David Judge drove a car so fast along a 2.7m-wide country road that it came over a bridge airborne and crashed into a Garda car.

Three gardaí were injured, Sligo District Court was told. One was off-duty for four months, a second for a considerable period, and Garda Michelle Conroy, who was pregnant, later suffered a miscarriage and was off work for six months. Garda Conroy also sustained neck injuries.

Judge was before the court for sentencing, having been remanded in custody for a week after he admitted drunk and dangerous driving shortly after midnight at Clogher, Monasteraden, Co Sligo, on Jan 15.

He told Judge Kevin Kilrane of his remorse and that he had only been a day behind bars, which he regarded as scary, when he was bullied.

The court heard that Judge, the youngest in a family of three, of Culfadda, Ballymote, was driving on a road with a speed limit of 80km/h. He was with four friends, and had drunk four bottles of Heineken.

A breath test showed he had a concentration of 146mg of alcohol per 100mg — a reading which Judge Kilrane said indicated much more that four bottles of beer.

Insp Sean McGinty said the gardaí in the patrol car saw the car being driven towards them at speed, “flying through the dips”. It came over a bridge, was unable to stop, and collided with the patrol car.

The court heard there were no major injuries to the five passengers in Judge’s car, although it was wrecked, and Judge, a part-time gardener, hadn’t driven since. He has also stopped drinking since the accident.

Judge, describing his remorse and his week spent in prison, said: “It has had a very severe effect on me.”

Judge Kilrane observed: “He was driving at a speed on a 9ft [wide] road which was completely and utterly inappropriate. If there was a cyclist or children, there would have been very serious injuries or worse.

“The gardaí said his car was coming at them in waves, going up and down. It lifted off the road and was airborne.

“He was completely unable to stop before hitting the patrol car. The remorsefulness doesn’t really take away from the nature of the offence.

“I do not accept four bottles of Heineken was anywhere near the drink-drive reading..

“A pregnant garda miscarried. That was the death of her unborn baby.”

The judge noted that the young man had a previous conviction for careless driving and said he deserved to be sent to prison.

Instead, the judge handed down a sentence of 240 hours’ community service and a five-year driving ban.


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