Thursday, June 23, 2022

Jessica Magee

A drunk-driver who rammed two patrol cars while leading gardaí in a high-speed chase through two counties has been given a suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The court heard that Mark Fox (29), of The Millicent, Clane, Co Kildare, was driving with only three tyres while the fourth wheel had no tyre, causing sparks to fly from the rims as he was pursued by several patrol cars and a garda helicopter on May 9th, 2021.

Gardaí described him throwing bags of white powder which they suspected was cocaine from his open car door as he drove at speeds of over 100kmph from Dublin city centre before being finally stopped at Clane Road, Celbridge in County Kildare.

Fox initially resisted arrest and told gardaí. “I wanted to crash and kill myself and take youse with me,” but later apologised and cooperated fully with the investigation.

He pleaded guilty to eight charges including two counts of endangerment, three counts of dangerous driving, drink-driving, driving without a licence and resisting arrest.

Garda Sonya Skelly told Edward Doocey BL, prosecuting, that garda attention was first drawn to the sound of steel impacting on cement and sparks emanating from the wheel rim of a Nissan Qashqai in Dublin city centre.

When the car broke a red light at Dame Street, an unmarked patrol car pursued it around College Green and activated the blue light, indicating to the car to pull in.

Red lights

Fox pulled in at Westmoreland Street but didn’t open his door and suddenly accelerated away, proceeding at speed south down the quays where he broke a number of red lights and snapped off a taxi-driver’s wing mirror.

A second patrol car joined the chase at Kilmainham and observed Fox emptying white powder out the door, throwing his mobile phone out the window and crossing over and back between lanes.

A garda helicopter joined them as the Qashqai rammed vertically into a garda Ford Mondeo.

Gda Skelly said Fox drove into the path of oncoming traffic and around a roundabout the wrong way before ramming a second garda car on Clane Road heading towards Barberstown Castle, where both vehicles stopped.

The entire incident lasted 30 minutes and spanned 28 kilometres, the court heard.

Fox was tested and found to have almost three times the legal limit of blood alcohol in his system. The court heard the Qashqai was considered dangerous and defective as it was driving on three wheels.

He has five previous convictions from the District Court, including threatening and abusive behaviour and driving without insurance. He had been disqualified from driving at the time of the offence and had only a learner permit at the time.

Mental health issues

Gda Skelly told Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that a few days later Fox could not remember some of what had happened and was taken aback when told.

Mr Le Vert said his client had suffered long term mental health issues after he was subjected to “sustained periods of attacks” from a family member when he was five years old.

The court heard that charges were directed against this family member who passed away before the process concluded.

Mr Le Vert said that after this offence, Fox’s long term partner gave him an ultimatum, and that he has been sober and clean of drugs ever since.

Multiple testimonials were provided to the court, including a letter showing that Fox works full time with Dublin City Council as a general operative where he is doing very well, and that he helps his mother who has ill-health.

Another letter from a community officer praised Fox for the great support he has given to local children, in particular one child who had suffered major trauma.

“He is able not only to heal his own issues but to save someone in crisis themselves,” said Mr Le Vert, adding that Fox has not come to any adverse attention since this offence.

Judge Martin Nolan handed down a sentence of three and a half years, which he suspended in full “by reason of Fox’s mental health problems and what caused them”.

He said Fox had expressed remorse and shame and was “a good community man” with a good work history. Fox was disqualified from driving for five years.

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