Insp Tom Kennedy told Ennis District Court that Martin Daly, 56, was opportunist when he took the 11 CE registered black Peugeot 207 from the forecourt at O’Sullivan & Hansbury Motors in Ennis at 12.20pm on February 10 last when he saw the keys in the ignition.
The car was up for sale by the garage at the time and Mr Daly — later found to be more than three times over the alcohol driving limit — was apprehended by gardaí at 2pm two miles from the garage driving the car back to Ennis.
Insp Kennedy said that during his 70 minutes behind the wheel, Daly, of The Mews, Kilrush Rd, Ennis, drove the 11km out to the village of Kilmaley and also took in the village of Inch.
Insp Kennedy said that “during Mr Daly’s spin, he had crashed perhaps more than once” causing multiple areas of damage to the car. One of the car’s alloy wheel was damaged with other areas of damage including a hole in the tyre; the front bumper; a part of the bumper was missing while the right wishbone and the right shock were bent. The total bill for the damage to the car was €2,361.
Due to the garage reporting the car stolen and through CCTV, gardaí were able to identify the person who took the car as Daly, who was living locally.
Insp Kennedy said when gardaí apprehended Daly at Dromeen East outside Ennis, he had a bottle of vodka in the car passenger seat “which he proceeded to attempt to drink in front of the gardaí”.
He said: “Mr Daly was arrested for drink driving and it came back 255 millilitres in blood, which is quite high.”
Daly has pleaded guilty to the unauthorised taking of a car; criminal damage, driving without insurance and drink driving on February 10 last.
His solicitor, Tara Godfrey, said: “Mr Daly wasn’t necessarily stealing a car from O’Sullivan and Hansbury — he was taking it for a test drive for a relation who was interested in the car.”
She said that Daly is a single man who recently returned to Ireland having spent 34 years in the UK.
She said: “[Mr Daly] has a dreadful drink problem that has got nothing but worse. As time marches on, he finds himself in a position more and more consumed by drink.”
Ms Godfrey said: “He can’t apologise enough for what has happened.”
Judge Patrick Durcan warned that Daly faces jail unless he comes up with a proposal to provide compensation to the garage. He adjourned the case to next Wednesday.