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Chef's 120kph drunken drive after mourning four pals

A CHEF who lost four of his friends to suicide in less than a year got behind the wheel of a friend's car to stop her driving home from the pub as she was drunk and incapable of driving, a court heard.

Darren Hunt (23) claimed his friend was insisting she was going to drive, and he felt he had no choice but to get behind the wheel as he was less drunk than she was.

A court heard Hunt was in the pub with a group of friends to remember four of their circle who had taken their own lives within a period of 10 months.

Judge Patrick Brady banned Hunt from driving for eight years, fined him €2,850 and ordered him to complete 150 hours community service in lieu of five months in prison.

The defendant, of Turvey Woods in Donabate, admitted before Swords District Court to drunken driving as well as three counts of dangerous driving, failing to stop for gardai and driving without insurance or a driving licence.

The incident took place shortly before 3am on July 24 last year. Garda Alan Quinn said he was on patrol when he saw a 2002 vehicle weaving from left to right on North Street.

He followed the vehicle, and indicated for it to stop at St Colmcille's Drive but Hunt drove off at greater speed.

Garda Quinn said Hunt drove towards the M1, speeding at 120kph in a 60kph zone, and driving through at red light at the Lissenhall roundabout. The court heard Hunt drove up the Hearse Road, overtaking another car while on a continuous white line.

Garda Quinn said Hunt drove towards Beaverstown Road in Donabate, before he pulled in and reversed at high speed back down the road, and stopping at Beaverstown Golf Club. He was taken to Santry Garda Station to be breathalysed where he gave a reading of 68mgs of alcohol per 100mls of breath.

Defence solicitor Fiona D'Arcy said Hunt's friend was insisting on driving, but she was incredibly drunk so he drove instead of her.

She said he saw the gardai and panicked.

hnews@herald.ie