01 Oct 2022

Alleged drunk driver a ‘menace’ to Derry road users

Charges are linked to a road traffic collision outside Templemore Sports Complex on Friday, June 26

Derry courthouse

Derry courthouse at Bishop Street.

A man alleged to have crashed into a car while drink-driving has been described as a ‘menace’ to other road users.

Brian McDonagh, 43, of Winchester Park in the city, faces charges of driving with excess alcohol, dangerous driving, failing to stop, remain and report an accident and using a motor vehicle without insurance on June 26.

A police officer told the court that around 10.30pm on Friday, June 26, a road traffic collision was reported on the Buncrana Road beside Templemore Sports Complex.

The defendant was identified as the driver of a silver Land Rover Freelander and was detained at the scene by members of the public.

McDonagh crossed the border into the North, the officer explained, where he caused other road users to cross into opposite lanes to avoid a collision.

A short time later the 43-year-old collided with the rear of a Vauxhall Corsa, the police officer added.

The driver of the Corsa stopped but the defendant was said to have driven on and proceeded to navigate a roundabout by driving anti-clockwise around it before getting stuck on a grass verge close to Templemore Sports Complex.

McDonagh blew 180mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. 

In custody an evidential sample was taken which gave a reading of 127mg.

During police interview, the defendant said he had just purchased the Land Rover Freelander at 5.55pm that evening.

The officer said McDonagh then bought insurance and drove home where he drank seven cans of Stella Artois beer ‘possibly more’.

He doesn’t remember anything after that point, the officer said.

Police objected to bail saying the defendant has 56 previous convictions and he was on bail for two other ‘very, very serious cases’.

He had been ordered to keep away from the city to alleviate the fears of alleged female injured parties in those cases.

In conclusion, the officer said McDonagh poses a danger to road users, a risk of reoffending and he won’t abide by bail conditions.

Defence solicitor Oliver Roche said there were two breaches, one in relation to a Crown Court case and the other for a Magistrates case.

It would be unusual, he said, for someone to be remanded in custody for a drink-driving charge.

He added that there was ‘absolutely no connection’ between the previous charges and new charges in that none of the alleged injured parties were involved.

And it’s likely to be a considerable length of time before matters are dealt with, he said.

District Judge Peter King accepted that but said the Crown Court case included serious motoring offences namely dangerous GBI and driving when unfit.

He said the contention that because the defendant is on Crown Court bail the Magistrates Court doesn’t have the power to interfere was not his reading of it.

The key breach was for alcohol, he added, and said he thought McDonagh would have avoided driving with drink in any shape or form.

The alcohol readings were ‘hugely concerning’ and show he has ‘little regard’ for his bail conditions or the safety of the public, Judge King said.

Offences committed while McDonagh was on bail were a ‘very clear’ aggravating feature, the judge said.

The defendant was deemed an unsuitable candidate for bail due to a risk of reoffending, a ‘significant fear’ he will harm members of the public using the roads.

Judge King concluded: “He is a menace to road users and it’s fortunate we’re not dealing with injuries or worse.”

McDonagh was remanded into custody to appear before the court again on July 27.

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