Offaly drug driver with 111 stitches in head spared jail because of his 'precarious' health
JUDGE Catherine Staines said she would not send a drug driver to jail when she was told the man had suffered a very bad head injury in an assault after he committed the offence.
A 22-year-old from 24 Killane Drive, Edenderry, Aaron Holt, received a six-month suspended sentence at Tullamore Court, was banned from driving for 10 years and was fined €100 for offences committed in Daingean on September 26 last year.
Tullamore District Court heard he was a disqualified driver when Garda Conor Shields saw him driving towards Daingean and struggling to keep his vehicle in a straight line.
Sergeant James O'Sullivan said the vehicle was then seen swerving to the left as it entered Daingean and it had to make a sudden realignment before it went off the road.
It pulled into the footpath on Main Street, Daingean and when Mr Holt spoke to the gardai he admitted having no insurance.
Gardai noticed a strong smell of cannabis from the vehicle and following his arrest, Mr Holt gave a urine sample in Tullamore station and analysis showed that cocaine and benzocaine were present.
Donal Farrelly, defending solicitor, entered a guilty plea on his client's behalf and said the man had two young children and his partner was expecting another.
He described Mr Holt as a man who had always been in employment prior to getting into difficulties and since the incident in Daingean he had sustained a very serious injury in an assault which resulted in him needing 111 stitches in his head.
He was attending regularly at St James's Hospital and was in a very precarious health situation.
At the time of the offences he had had a “bit of a breakdown” and was using cocaine and cannabis.
He was no longer using the drugs and would not be doing so in future because of the injury he had suffered.
A “changed man”, he had also submitted urine samples to show that he was staying off drugs and Mr Farrelly asked Judge Staines not to send him to jail.
He added that Mr Holt had a number of matters before the court he has to pay compensation for, including a matter before the Circuit Court.
Mr Holt pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Edenderry Road, Daingean, and drug driving and driving without insurance at Main Street, Daingean.
Judge Staines noted eight of the man's 21 previous road traffic convictions were for having no insurance and in January 2019 he had been disqualified from driving for eight years.
In this case he was driving while disqualified and drug driving and could have killed somebody.
“If you drive a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, it's like driving a loaded gun,” said the judge.
She said she had a six-month sentence in mind but noted the man's extremely serious injuries, his stitches and his health situation, which she described as “very precarious”.
In those circumstances she would be concerned about sending him to jail so she imposed a suspended sentence of six months in the Midlands Prison, along with the driving ban and fine.
She warned Mr Holt that he will go to prison if he drives again while disqualified.
The District Court was first informed about Mr Holt's head injury when he appeared a fortnight earlier in relation to compensation he owed for causing criminal damage in Edenderry.
At that appearance, Mr Farrelly explained that Mr Holt had been attacked and robbed of money when he was on his way to buy an engagement ring.
He owed €750 since 2018 for damaging an apartment at Francis Street, Edenderry and in a previous incident, he owed €2,000 compensation for an assault on a 21-year-old Hungarian man in Edenderry in 2016.
The victim sustained a broken nose and fractured cheekbone in the assault, and had to be treated both at Mullingar Hospital and in the Eye and Ear and St James's, Dublin.
The Circuit Court was told the prosecution of Mr Holt arose after a group of youths were seen at the harbour area in Edenderry.
Mr Holt, described at the time as a talented hurler and boxer, had been originally been ordered to pay €10,000 compensation in five instalments. At the District Court sitting on January 6 last, Judge Staines said there was no prospect of the €750 being paid for the damage to the apartment so she ordered that €500 be paid from the court poor box instead.
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