Man who led gardaí on drunken chase in stolen car jailed for three and a half years

A Greek man who led gardaí on a drunken chase in a stolen car before causing a multi-vehicle collision at a busy junction has been jailed for three and a half years, writes Fiona Ferguson.

Kosmas Ompante (29), who had a litre bottle of vodka in the Mercedes car and admitted taking tablets, later expressed remorse during garda interview and said: “I hope I haven't killed anyone.”

Ompante, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to endangerment, dangerous driving, unlawful use of a car and three counts of criminal damage to cars at Cappagh Road, Finglas on August 3, 2017.

File photo

Ompante, who has been in custody since his arrest, also admitted driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as driving without a licence or insurance on the same occasion.

Ompante has 17 previous convictions from the United Kingdom and one from Greece.

Judge Martin Nolan noted Ompante had been over the drink driving limit “by a considerable amount” before driving in a “reckless and dangerous manner” and endangering other road users.

He imposed a three and a half year sentence and disqualified Ompante from driving for six years.

Garda Mark Berrigan told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that he was on mobile patrol with a colleague in an unmarked car when they observed the Mercedes driven by Ompante overtake a vehicle at speed and cross over to their side of the road.

The gardaí recognised the registration of the Mercedes as one which had been stolen two days previously. They turned to pursue the defendant and when he stopped at a red light, the garda car pulled up in front of his vehicle to stop him leaving.

As the gardai exited their vehicle, Ompante revved his engine, reversed and drove off at speed towards Cardiffsbridge Road. There was a build up of traffic in the area and a lot of pedestrians.

After overtaking a Dublin Bus at a red light, Ompante drove through a junction on the wrong side of the road and crashed into the side of another vehicle. The collision caused both cars to spin through 180 degrees.

Ompante's vehicle came to rest on the far side of the junction, narrowly avoiding other cars. The car he crashed into collided with a second car before it stopped.

Ompante tried to run but he stumbled and was restrained by gardaí who noticed a strong smell of intoxication from him. A bottle of vodka was found in the passenger seat footwell.

He was tested and found to be in the highest category of intoxication in relation to blood alcohol levels. He also admitted taking tablets.

Ompante told gardai during interview that he should not have been driving and said he hoped that he had not killed anyone. He said he had been stressed and felt ashamed of his behaviour. He told gardai he had swapped a Samsung Galaxy phone with a friend of his for the car.

The driver and passenger of the car Ompante impacted sustained injuries including chipped teeth, a fractured shin bone and soft tissue injuries. The woman in the second car had a bloodied nose from impact with her air bag and later had headaches.

The woman in the second car told gardai: “I don't know how he didn't kill someone.”

Luigi Rea BL, defending, said Ompante's family had moved from Greece to the UK when he was 15. The father of two had previously worked in catering.

Mr Rea said at the time of these offences Ompante was living in hostel accommodation and had fallen into a depressed state. He began to dabble with cocaine, tablets and was using alcohol.

He said Ompante had made full admissions and was someone who was anxious to rehabilitate himself. He said his client wished to return to the UK to care for his two children.

KEYWORDS: Courts

 

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