Disqualified driver who tried to avoid capture after chase by hiding in attic is jailed

A father-of-three who crashed his car into a bollard following a chase and was later found hiding in an attic has been jailed for 18 months.

Disqualified driver who tried to avoid capture after chase by hiding in attic is jailed

Additional reporting by Fiona Ferguson

A father-of-three who crashed his car into a bollard following a chase and was later found hiding in an attic has been jailed for 18 months.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Edward Stokes (25) forced his way through a junction at Naas Road, Clondalkin, driving through a red light and over a LUAS line while a tram was moving through.

Stokes, of Oldcastle Park, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to endangerment and dangerous driving at locations in Clondalkin and Ballyfermot on October 3, 2016.

Detective Garda Ciaran O'Neill told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question he was driving an unmarked patrol car when he observed a driver, the accused, who tried to hide his face from the gardaí.

Dt Gda O'Neill said he activated the blue lights and siren in the car. Stokes proceeded to accelerate his car and tried to ram the gardaí, forcing them to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

Stokes made a sideswipe at the Garda car as he drove away at speeds in excess of 90km/h - despite being in a 60km/h zone - and gardaí followed in pursuit.

He forced his way through a junction at Naas Road, Clondalkin, driving through a red light and over a LUAS line while a tram was moving through. He later took a sharp left onto Walkinstown Avenue, breaking a red light and narrowly missing a passenger who was crossing.

The initial pursuit came to an end when Stokes drove into a settled traveller's site in Ballyfermot, forcing a white van out of the way and forcing an ice cream truck to take evasive action. He then mounted the curb and crashed into a bollard.

The accused exited the car and was pursued by gardaí on foot. Gardaí arrested Stokes after chasing him to a house where they found him in the attic holding the door shut.

Stokes has 23 previous convictions, including convictions for violent disorder, driving without a licence, driving without road tax, and careless driving. He was disqualified from driving at the time of the offence.

Dt Gda O'Neill agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that although his client did everything he could to evade gardaí, including putting other's lives at risk, he came down from the attic when he was told the game was up.

Mr Le Vert offered an apology on behalf of his client, saying that he panicked when he saw gardaí. He said his client has been married for five years and has three children. Stokes has been diagnosed with necrotizing pancreatitis, requiring medication and specialised diet.

Mr Le Vert said there was a positive report before the court from the Probation Service and said Stokes had become a mentor to other young travellers in difficulty. He said Stokes had consistently expressed regret for his actions and was thankful no one was hurt that day.

Judge Cormac Quinn said it was a very serious offence and noted Stokes was disqualified from driving at the time. He noted his medical conditions and the fact he had not come to any further attention.

Judge Quinn imposed a three-year sentence and suspended the final 18 months on strict conditions.

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