A man who was banned from driving rammed two garda cars, endangered other motorists and drove the wrong direction through the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork has been jailed for two and a half years for a “shocking litany of driving offences.”
Tony Caulfield, from Cathedral Road in Gurranabraher in Cork, appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court having pleaded guilty to offences such as endangerment, dangerous driving and criminal damage.
The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to endangering life on November 18th 2021 when he drove against oncoming traffic on the N20 Mallow Road, Killeens, Co Cork causing risk of death or injury.
He also pleaded guilty to intentionally ramming two garda cars on the same date. Mr Caulfield also admitted causing €7,000 worth of damage to a Garda car on the Skew Bridge in Cork and to being responsible for causing €3,000 damage to another garda car at Killeens on the same date.
Mr Caulfield also pleaded guilty to causing €6,000 damage to a patrol car at Mallow Road in Cork on the same date. He also admitted to pleading guilty to counts of dangerous driving at Knockfree Avenue and Sweeney’s Hill in Cork on the same date.
The court also heard on November 18th 2021 Caulfield drove down narrow city streets in Cork at high speed, went through eleven red traffic lights and four stop signs.
Mr Caulfield also drove down pedestrian steps in the city in an attempt to avoid being arrested. On coming vehicles were forced to take evasive action as he drove on the wrong side of the road.
Mr Caulfield also didn’t have insurance and was driving when he was under two different disqualification orders.
Meanwhile, Mr Caulfield was also sentenced for driving offences which occurred on February 21st, 2021 when he went the wrong direction through the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork. Workers were doing maintenance onsite in the early hours of the morning when the offence occurred.
Mr Caulfield has 67 previous convictions. These include two convictions for endangerment and twenty convictions for dangerous driving.
Siobhan Lankford, defence barrister, said that her client started smoking cannabis at the age of ten and left school six years later at the tender age of 16.
Ms Lankford said that Caulfield moved on to harder drugs as his drug taking escalated. He has to take prescribed
anti-psychotic drugs as a result of ingested substances from such a young age.
Ms Lankford said that Caulfield had “a lamentable history” in relation to driving.
“Over the last 10 years he has hardly had a birthday or a Christmas that was not spent in prison. One hopes, that as often occurs, when people reach a certain age they steady up.”
Ms Lankford made an appeal for leniency in the case. She expressed the hope that Caulfield had turned a corner in relation to his offending behaviour.
In sentencing, Judge Dara Hayes said that the actions of the disqualified driver were “contemptuous”.
“This was an appalling litany of driving offences covering large swatches of Cork city. He drove the wrong way through the Jack Lynch Tunnel when unsuspecting maintenance workers were entitled to presume the absence of traffic.
It is a miracle no-one was injured during either of these disgraceful episodes. Gardai were placed in great danger by him.
“It shows a contemptuous attitude as he flouts disqualifications. He has ruined his life, and he is remorseful for his actions. He says he was young and stupid, but the probation report puts him at a high risk of re-offending.”
Judge Hayes jailed Mr Caulfield for four and a half years. However, he suspended two years of the sentence and disqualified him from driving for eight and a half years.