A WOMAN who defecated in the back of a garda patrol van and pleaded guilty to an array of other charges was given a four-month prison sentence at Carlow District Court last week.
Nicola Brennan, Woodglade, Fenagh received the four-month sentence for driving without insurance, while she also received a six-month suspended sentence for criminal damage, when she defecated in the garda vehicle at Potato Market.
Sentencing the 30-year-old defendant, Judge Geraldine Carthy said: “There comes a time where a line in the sand has to be drawn in this court and the line has now come.”
At the outset of the cast, Sergeant Hud Kelly told the court that the defendant was found unsteady on her feet at Kennedy Avenue, Carlow on 14 December last.
“She was carrying a bottle of wine that had been reported stolen from O’Brien’s wine,” said Sgt Kelly.
Ms Brennan was arrested for her own safety. The court was told the defendant was placed in the back of the patrol van, where she defecated, causing criminal damage which required €136 on cleaning.
On 18 August 2020, the defendant was involved in a road traffic accident in Tullow.
Ms Brennan was found abusing emergency services, who attempted to render aid.
“She was directed to desist on a number of occasions. She was abusing people trying to help her,” said Sgt Kelly.
Ms Brennan also pleaded guilty to driving without insurance, driving licence and other documents on three separate dates between April 2020 and October 2020. One of the incidents took place on 26 April 2020 at Loughmartin, Tullow. Sgt Kelly said two children aged six and nine were found in the boot of the car, while several adults who were also in the car were intoxicated.
Ms Brennan pleaded guilty to two incidents of public intoxication on 6 and 14 August 2020.
Regarding the 6 August offence, Ms Brennan was found intoxicated near the river’s edge on the Burrin Road. She was arrested for her own safety.
The defendant had 15 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences. She had previously been convicted of driving without insurance in 2016.
Defending solicitor Joe Farrell said the offences had occurred in an eight-month window.
“She was really struggling in terms of her behaviour in the lockdown. A couple of her children are in the care of her mother,” said Mr Farrell. “She found herself homeless, she has found herself at rock bottom … we hope it’s rock bottom.”
Mr Farrell said that a few other offences were in the pipeline, but his client had not come to adverse attention in recent times.
Mr Farrell said his client had wished to engage with the probation services, but accepted “that ship may have sailed”.
“I’d ask you to keep her liberty,” said Mr Farrell. “Her mother is a really good influence on her … she’s getting to see her children.”
Judge Carthy noted that one of the cases had initially been due to be contested at a previous court date, but Ms Brennan entered a guilty plea on the date of the hearing. The matter had been adjourned to a further court date, which Ms Brennan had not attended. A bench warrant was subsequently issued and the execution of the warrant had led to last Wednesday’s appearance in the district court.
“She has been playing ducks and drakes with the court,” said Judge Carthy.
Judge Carthy noted that even though she had been arrested for driving without insurance on 26 April 2020, Ms Brennan continued to drive on further dates in May and October 2020.
“There comes a time where a line in the sand has to be drawn in this court and the line has come today.”
Judge Carthy imposed a four-month prison sentence on the October insurance charge, along with an eight-year driving ban. A six-month suspended sentence was handed down on the criminal damage charge in Potato Market, suspended for 18 months.
Ms Brennan was given a probation bond and ordered to engage with the probation services and accept all supports and therapies offered.
“It seems this lady has alcohol addiction issues that need to be addressed,” said the judge.
Mr Farrell asked for recognisances to be fixed in the event of an appeal, but did not think Ms Brennan would appeal.
Judge Carthy fixed bail conditions for an appeal, which would include that Ms Brennan reside at an address in Fenagh, not drive a vehicle, sign on three times a week at Carlow Garda Station and lodge €100 in cash.