After wild chase in Dublin drunk driver told gardaí he had taken six Ecstasy tablets

A high speed car chase ended when the driver crashed into traffic lights sending the traffic lights flying into a parked car, a court has heard.

Anthony Ward (26) drove the car at night with the lights switched off at speeds of up to 160 km/hr in areas with a speed limit of 60 km/hr. He broke red lights and caused oncoming traffic to veer out of the way.

He drove over speed bumps at an estimated speed of 120 km/hr until he finally lost control of the car. The stolen car spun 360 degrees twice before crashing into two sets of traffic lights.

The force of the impact caused one set of lights to be lifted from its base and fly over a fence. The light went through the front window of a car parked nearby and lodged in the dashboard.

Ward of Neilstown Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving on Park West Ave., Ballyfermot on July 7, 2015. He also admitted driving a stolen car, driving while drunk and driving with no insurance on the same occasion. He was banned from driving at the time.

Brian Storan BL, defending, said his client had instructed him that his reasons for committing the crimes were his anger management issues. Mr Storan said that Ward is the middle son and that neither his older brother or younger sister had ever got into trouble.

The court heard that Ward's father was a very violent and abusive man and that this had affected Ward.

“Anger at his home relationships manifested in him getting behind a wheel. The anger manifested in his abusing alcohol and tablets,” counsel said.

Garda Colm Byrne told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that he was on patrol with another garda when they saw a Toyota Avensis driven by Ward crossing across a roundabout at speed.

The patrol car began following and Ward switched the lights off and accelerated to speeds of 160km/hr. Gda Byrne said that at times the driver was struggling to maintain control and the back of the Avensis was swinging from left to right.

After crashing the car, Ward and a passenger ran for it but gardaí caught Ward. He told gardaí he had taken six Ecstasy tablets and said: “I'm fucked”. He was also found to have 145mg of alcohol per 100ml urine.

Judge Karen O'Connor imposed a three year prison sentence with one year suspended on condition he engage with the Probation Services. She also disqualified him from driving for six years.

Judge O'Connor said Ward's driving presented a serious risk to the safety of the public and he was lucky he was not in court on more serious charges.

Ward's 49 previous convictions include seven for dangerous driving all from the one incident in January 2015 where he drove dangerously around the city.

He also has two previous convictions for drunk driving and one for car theft. In 2010 he was disqualified from driving for ten years after he received a fourth conviction for driving without insurance.

In January 2013 he received another driving disqualification for a drunk driving offence. On August 27, 2016 he was caught drunk driving.

Mr Le Vert said that the insurance company had told the owner of the parked car damaged by the traffic lights that there was a strong possibility that the car was a write off.

Mr Storan said his client has moved to Carlow and is in a stable home now and has a new born child. He is supporting two children from a previous relationship and is working as an electrical contractor.

Judge O'Connor noted the mitigating factors of Ward's guilty plea, a supportive partner and his remorse. But she said he was caught red-handed. She also noted the negative influence of his father in his formative years.

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