A judge has stated that an east Clare man "used his car as a weapon” when pursuing a Go Safe driver for 16km on country roads across east Clare almost two years ago.
At Ennis Circuit Court today, Judge Brian O’Callaghan made his comment after viewing CCTV footage showing Shane Malone, 31, overtaking and pulling across the Go Safe speed camera van twice forcing Go Safe driver, Michael Whelan to stop and take evasive action.
The CCTV footage first shows Mr Malone formerly of Derronan, Derrainy, Whitegate get out of his car at Cregg, Whitegate and slap and kick six times a parked Go Safe van at 4.40pm on September 30 2018.
State Solicitor for Clare, Ms Aisling Casey stated that Mr Malone told Go Safe driver, Michael Whelan to open the door and "you're a big f**king man in the van”.
Ms Casey stated that Mr Whelan was in fear and fled the scene in his Go Safe van.
The CCTV footage shows Mr Malone’s Peugeot 306 in pursuit and gaining on Mr Whelan before he overtakes the Go Safe van and pulls across the van forcing it to stop on a country road.
Mr Whelan reversed the van and went in the opposite direction before Mr Malone caught up with and pulled across in front of the Go Safe van again on Whitegate village’s main street.
Mr Malone then got out of his car and could be seen walking towards the van before Mr Whelan drove past Mr Malone and Mr Malone continued his pursuit before eventually abandoning the chase.
Judge O'Callaghan stated that Mr Malone “harassed” the Go Safe driver, Mr Whelan.
The judge described Mr Malone’s behaviour as ‘crazy” and stated that his conduct was “appalling”.
After viewing the CCTV footage, Judge O’Callaghan stated: “Mr Malone could be up for harassment, for endangerment to not only the Go Safe man but other road users. He could have been hit with the most serious offences. He is a lucky man."
Judge O’Callaghan stated: “Fair dues to Mr Whelan for still being at work."
In his victim impact statement read out to court, Mr Whelan stated: “I feared for my life and the life of other drivers and pedestrians.” Mr Whelan stated that Mr Malone “put me through 25 minutes of a very frightening experience”.
Mr Whelan stated that Mr Malone “chased me at a dangerous speed and I feared that he would run me off the road”.
Mr Whelan stated that on two occasions during Mr Malone’s pursuit, he had to stop the van “and he also attacked the van by kicking it and hitting it and shouting abuse at me”.
Mr Whelan stated that he feared that Mr Malone “would get into the van. He was extremely aggressive".
He stated: “Since that day, I am not the same person I was when I joined Go Safe. Hopefully, someday, I might be able to move past this very traumatic experience and again become the confident person I once was."
Mr Malone was in court appealing the severity of a cumulative 12 month prison term imposed on him last October at Ennis District Court for the Go Safe incident that included criminal damage and assault convictions and other offences. Mr Malone has pleaded guilty to all six offences where jail terms were imposed.
Concerning the other incident, Ms Casey stated that Mr Malone also gave chase in his Peugeot at speed to a local man, Aidan Hickey on January 14 2019 when Mr Hickey was driving home to Mountshannon.
Ms Casey stated that Mr Malone overtook and reversed into Mr Hickey’s car but caused no damage.
Ms Casey stated that when Mr Hickey arrived home he saw Mr Malone’s car parked outside his home and Mr Malone assaulted Mr Hickey in the driveway of Mr Hickey’s home.
Ms Casey stated Mr Hickey knocked out a tooth of Mr Malone’s when trying to defend himself as Mr Malone kept coming at him.
Ms Casey stated that Mr Malone told Mr Hickey ‘you’re a dead man’.
Asked by Judge O'Callaghan did Mr Malone have any previous involvement with Mr Hickey, Garda Iomar McClearn told the court there was “an altercation on a GAA pitch after a match 10 years before that according to Mr Hickey”.
Ms Casey stated that Mr Malone has no previous convictions. She stated that at Garda interview, he did admit to kicking the Go Safe van and “sang while the notes of the interview were being called over to him and he refused to sign the interview”.
Ms Casey stated that Mr Malone spent seven years in Australia but is now living away from east Clare and is living in the west Clare village of Carrigaholt.
Counsel for Mr Malone, Patrick Barriscale BL stated at Garda interview, Mr Malone stated: “I’m very sorry to have kicked the van and done what I done. My anger was down to life problems."
He told Gardai: “I’m very sorry for my actions. I deeply regret it. I will work to control my anger from now on.” Mr Barriscale stated that Mr Malone “behaved appallingly” and “is throwing himself on the mercy of the court”.
Judge O’Callaghan stated that before he would impose sentence, he required a Probation Report on Mr Malone.
Judge O’Callaghan stated that Mr Malone “has no explanation for what occurred and it would be wrong of this court not to find out if is there another issue we need to address before somebody else receives his wrath”.
Judge O’Callaghan told Mr Malone that he was lucky that he wasn’t remanding him in custody but remanded him on bail to Ennis Circuit Court to October 29.