Athlone drunk driver sent to jail after original sentence deemed too lenient

A drunken driver from Athlone, who narrowly missed six oncoming cars before crashing into a nurse on Christmas Eve in south Roscommon, has been sent to jail after his fully suspended sentence was deemed too lenient.

Alan Craughwell, with an address at Retreat Road, Athlone, Co Westmeath, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Michelle Fallon at Taghmaconnell, Co Roscommon on December 24, 2017.

The 35-year old was given a wholly suspended two-and-a-half year sentence by Judge Francis Comerford on May 8, 2019, and banned from driving for 10 years.

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The judge also directed that Craughwell pay €1,400 that day to the injured party, or a charity of her choice.

The Court of Appeal found Craughwell’s sentence to have been “unduly lenient” yesterday, and he was immediately jailed for 15 months.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said it was not a case of “isolated ill-judgment” such as taking a bend at excessive speed or overtaking at the wrong place but it was “sustained, rank bad driving” by Craughwell, against the background of a heavy drinking session in the Christmas period.

Gardaí who came upon the scene noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from Craughwell and he was subsequently found to have 105 mlgs of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, just over twice the legal limit.

Before the collision, Mr Justice Birmingham said Craughwell narrowly missed six cars that were coming towards him.

Mr Craughwell’s Toyota Avensis was in collission with Ms Fallon’s Toyota Corolla, which she had been driving with her husband and son as passengers and she suffered “very significant injuries” including fractures to both her ankles and was hospitalised for one week over the Christmas period.y.

The court heard Craughwell had not driven a car since the date of the offence and he was actively addressing his problems with alcohol.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge fell into error in believing custody could be completely avoided.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, re-sentenced Craughwell to two-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final 15 months suspended.

Craughwell was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for the suspended period, and he undertook to be so bound.

His 10-year driving ban remained in place.