Sulky racers have jail terms and road bans cut on appeal

A four-minute sulky race that resulted in over a year of YouTube notoriety was back in court yesterday where five of those involved had their five-month jail terms reduced by two months and their six-year driving bans cut by a year.

Judge David Riordan heard the appeals of their district court sentences at Cork Circuit Appeals Court yesterday.

He decided to reduce the jail time and period off the road in all five cases.

Judge Riordan initially reduced the driving disqualifications from six years to five years for the dangerous driving at New Mallow Rd on May 5, 2012, and affirmed the five-month jail sentences imposed by the lower court.

However, following further representations by barristers Donnacha Kiely for four of the men and Brendan Kelly for one man, the judge agreed to suspend the last two months of the five-month jail sentences in all cases.

Sgt Ken O’Sullivan outlined the events that occurred on that day, which were made notorious by the uploading of recordings of the race on to YouTube, which were then viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

Judge Riordan noted that a phalanx of four cars, driven abreast of each other, went ahead of the horses and cart, or sulkies, and that traffic coming from the Mallow direction had to take avoidance action. Gardaí were also prevented from breaking up the race.

“Gardaí were trying to stop it and they were being bested, for want of a better word, until the matter came to a conclusion,” said Judge Riordan.

“The court has to send out a message that this sort of behaviour won’t be tolerated and a repetition won’t be tolerated. It does warrant a custodial sentence.”

All five appellants were convicted of dangerous driving and some had additional offences.

Jimmy O’Brien, aged 28, of 21 Innishannon Rd, Fairhill, Cork, was convicted of dangerous driving at Ballygibbon, Blarney, on May 5.

Patrick O’Brien, aged 25, of 1 Woodford, Rossa Ave, Cork, was convicted of dangerous driving of a horse-drawn vehicle, and wilful obstruction.

Danny Stokes, aged 46, of St Anthony’s Park halting site, was convicted of dangerous driving and overtaking on the left-hand side.

Bernie McDonagh, aged 20, of the halting site at Nash’s Boreen, Cork, was convicted of dangerous driving and obstruction.

Bail conditions require the defendants not to engage in sulky racing in a public place.

Christopher Roche, aged 41, of Bay 3, St Anthony’s Park halting site, Cork, was convicted of two counts of dangerous driving and two counts of willful obstruction.

Sgt O’Sullivan confirmed that all five defendants had pleaded guilty to the charges against them, had co-operated with the investigation, and had not come to the attention of gardaí since the race in May last year.

He said he had encountered sulky racing since but none of the incidents had involved the five appellants.


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