A Donegal machinery driver who threatened to kill a garda and burn his house and rape the wife of another garda has been jailed for two years.
Mark Fair (26) of Ballinahone, Fahan admitted a series of offences in two separate incidents in 2012 and 2014 which included smashing windows on a speed van.
In a later incident, he drove straight at a Garda car causing the driver to swerve to avoid a collision.
Fair pleaded guilty to five dangerous driving charges related to an incident in which gardaí believed he was trying to goad them into a chase.
Afterwards he threatened to have a garda shot and told another garda he would rape his wife.
Sgt Carol Doherty told Letterkenny Circuit Court that at 1.35am on August 15th, 2012 a report was received by Buncrana Garda station that a heavy object had been thrown at a Go Safe speed van at Lisfannon. The object was thrown from a white Citroën Berlingo van.
Gardaí stopped the Berlingo van at Railway Road in Buncrana and Fair said his hand was sore from punching the speed van.
Later in the morning, the same Go Safe operator reported the windscreen of the van had been broken.
Fair was stopped in Buncrana and when arrested said: “I’ll burn the van.”
He later admitted throwing bottles at the speed van. He said he was drinking whiskey and was later convicted for failing to provide a sample.
The damage to the van cost over €400 to repair.
The operator of the van told gardaí he saw Fair was about to throw something at the van and he jumped back in the van before the glass smashed.
In the second incident, the court heard that gardaí received a report in the early hours of December 4th, 2014 of a car driving erratically at Burnfoot.
Sgt Doherty told the court that at 1.30 am at Ludden Buncrana he overtook a Garda patrol car on a continuous white line.
Five minutes later he overtook a Garda patrol van on a stretch of road governed by central hatch markings.
Later at Fahan he passed a Garda car on the left-hand side of the road.
Sgt Doherty said: “It was almost like he was trying to goad the guards into chasing him”.
Fair was driving both directions on the road between Burnfoot and Buncrana. At one point he drove in front of the Garda patrol van. He stopped dead and put on reversing lights as if he was to reverse into the patrol car.
In another incident at Burnfoot, Fair crossed to the wrong side of the road and drove at speed towards a patrol car.
The driver had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
After his arrest, Sgt Doherty said Fair was very abusive and threatening to gardaí.
He told one garda that he was going to have him shot and another garda that he knew where he lived, that he would burn his house down and rape his wife.
He was arrested at Burnfoot Garda station.
Sgt Doherty said gardaí were extremely concerned about the way he was driving,
In a victim impact statement, the garda who was threatened with being shot said he believed Fair was intending to kill or seriously injure someone on the night in question.
The garda, who is originally from Northern Ireland, said Fair told him he would be shot like Andrew Allen, the Derry man who was killed by dissident republicans near Buncrana in 2012.
The garda said he had suffered no effects from the threat.
The court heard Fair had 35 previous convictions, mostly for public order and motoring offences.
Defence counsel Peter Nolan said Fair was drunk on the night of the attacks on the speed van.
Séan Mac Aodha, who represented Fair on the dangerous driving charges, said that while there was a litany of previous offences going back to 2007, Fair had no convictions for violence or assault.
Mr Mac Aodha said the issue of alcohol "was the villain of the piece".
He said his client has stayed clear of alcohol for the last number of years and is attending AA in prison, where he was on remand, and works in the prison kitchen.
Mr Mac Aodha said Fair, a machinery driver, was drunk on the night and "what led him down this road was alcohol". The court heard Fair faced a sentence of ten years in prison.
Judge John O’Hagan said: "No one likes speed vans but you have to put up with them, they are part of the scene. Taking your frustration out on them by throwing something at them is just silly."
In relation to the December 2014 incidents, The judge said Fair had driven “like a madman”.
“He went berserk and caused a threat not alone to himself but to gardaí. It was quite clear from the evidence that I heard that you were trying to goad them into a chase. “
He sentenced Fair to two years in prison and disqualified him for two years. Judge O’Hagan directed that if he reapplies for his licence he has to undergo a driving test.