A man who threw himself in front of a car and then claimed damages against the driver has been jailed for a year.
Waquil Alatise (52) admitted making a false statement at Clondalkin garda station on January 17, 2015 intending to show that another person had committed a driving offence.
The father-of-six of Russell Walk, Fortune’s Way, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on the day of his scheduled trial in February this year.
The court heard Alatise collapsed in front of the woman’s car as she waited to exit a car park, then falsely claimed she had hit him while talking on her phone.
Passing sentence today, Judge Elma Sheahan condemned Alitise’s “premeditated behaviour” which she said caused the victim “significant distress and upset” and “made her life a misery” up until his guilty plea.
“It’s a most serious offence,” said the judge.
It demonstrates a high level of culpability and the highest degree of intent.
She sentenced Alatise to 16 months in prison but suspended the final four months, on condition that he keep the peace for four months after his release.
Judge Sheahan said Alatise’s motivation had been to defraud the woman’s insurance company and that he had submitted a claim to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, which he had since withdrawn.
Judge Sheahan said despite good mitigation, she was compelled to give Alatise a custodial sentence given the effect on the victim and “the necessity, in general, to deter this kind of behaviour”.
Garda Colm Byrne told Barry Ward BL, prosecuting, that he was called to the Mill Centre car park on the Old Nangor Rd, Clondalkin, on November 8, 2014.
A woman who had been driving her husband’s car, on which she was insured, told gardaí she had been waiting to exit the car park with the hand break engaged when she saw something out of the corner of her eye.
She said she saw a rucksack jutting out from her front passenger wheel and a man lying on ground.
The woman said she got out and asked the man if he was ok, but he wouldn’t answer.
She rang 999 and was “adamant” that she had not hit the man as her car had been stopped at the time.
An eyewitness at the scene, Patrick O’Leary, later told gardaí he had seen the driver stopped for a few seconds at the car park entrance when a man walked across in front of her car and collapsed.
Mr O’Leary said the driver had not been on her phone and the man was not hit by the car.
The DPP concluded that the woman should not be prosecuted and gardaí arrested Alatise. The court heard that medical evidence supported the notion that Alatise had not been injured in the course of the incident.
Garda Byrne said Alatise made a civil claim to PIAB in October 2016, shortly before the two-year claim window expired. Alatise later wrote to AXA formally withdrawing his claim. He has no previous convictions in Ireland or the UK.
In a victim impact statement read out on her behalf, the woman said she was very angry at the accusation of bad driving that had been made against her.
She said she was a very careful driver, that she had held a driving licence for 20 years without incident.
The woman said the ordeal had affected her confidence when driving and that she was now nervous on the roads.
She said the accused had her “doubting herself” and that it had taken her a very long time for her good name to be cleared.
Kim Moloney BL, defending, said her client had moved to Ireland from Lagos, Nigeria in 2008 under the Family Reunification Programme.
She said Alatise suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2013 and his marriage subsequently broke up, but that he remarried last year and his second wife lives in Lagos.
The court heard Alatise has been an Irish citizen since 2012 and works several jobs to support his children and ex-wife, who suffers from polio.
Ms Moloney presented several testimonials on behalf of her client and said Alatise had a good work history and an excellent education.
The court heard he had been doing a Masters in International Peace Studies at Trinity College and planned to submit his thesis this year, with the goal of completing a PhD at Oxford University.
Ms Moloney said her client had made a massive error of judgement but was apologetic for his actions. “He has put his hands up,” she said.