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Man jailed for driving illegally to wife's grave already had five bans

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Judge Michael Walsh said the maximum six-month penalty for uninsured driving was "totally inadequate". (stock photo)

Judge Michael Walsh said the maximum six-month penalty for uninsured driving was "totally inadequate". (stock photo)

Judge Michael Walsh said the maximum six-month penalty for uninsured driving was "totally inadequate". (stock photo)

A widower who drove without insurance or a licence to visit his wife's grave has been jailed for four months.

John Keely (55) had already received five driving bans when gardai stopped him.

Sentencing him and banning him from driving for eight years, Judge Michael Walsh said the maximum six-month penalty for uninsured driving was "totally inadequate".

He also ordered the defendant to pay a €300 fine.

Keely, of Glenmore Park, Rathfarnham, pleaded guilty to driving without insurance or a licence on January 21, 2018.

Dublin District Court heard gardai stopped Keely driving a silver Ford Focus at St Colmcille's Way, Knocklyon, at 2pm on the day in question.

The vehicle was seized and Keely was arrested and charged.

He had 94 previous convictions, the vast majority for motoring offences, and had been given suspended sentences and disqualifications of up to 10 years, the prosecuting garda told the court.

He was under five separate driving bans at the time of the latest incident.

cuckoo

Keely had a number of children and had worked as a labourer, but his wife died three years ago and "everything stopped" at that point, his lawyer said.

On the day he was caught driving, he had just been visiting his wife's grave, she said, asking the court not to impose a custodial sentence.

Judge Walsh said: "He had five disqualification orders - that is as bad as it gets."

Keely did not drive any more and was getting public transport, his lawyer added.

"I'm sure he's not living in some cloud cuckoo land about the consequences of driving without insurance," Judge Walsh said.

He said that when uninsured drivers were in collisions, the cost had to be met by other motorists through increased insurance premiums.

The judge said recent but not up-to-date figures showed an average of eight drivers a day were being apprehended for driving without insurance.

The Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland was paying out €60m a year on claims, he said.

The maximum sentence for uninsured driving was six months, and the judge said he believed this was "totally inadequate for an offence of this nature".