A DRIVER who led gardai on a dangerous high-speed chase through inner city Dublin was trying to escape because more than €400,000 worth of heroin was in the car.
Father-of-one Seamus O'Hara (29) had agreed to transport the drugs to pay off gambling debts he had run up after he lost his job.
O'Hara pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to five counts of dangerous driving beginning on the Navan Road, Dublin 7, last September 13.
He has already been sentenced to three years in jail at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for his part in moving the drugs.
Judge Anthony Halpin suspended another four-month sentence, saying the offences were all part of the same incident.
The judge was told that when gardai tried to stop the accused, he drove off at high speed, running a red light and mounting a footpath to get around traffic.
O'Hara, of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8, then turned right into the path of oncoming vehicles and continued to speed on the wrong side of the road through another junction against oncoming traffic.
He proceeded to Blackhall Place, where he again ran a red light as he crossed the Luas lines.
After crossing the Liffey, he mounted the central reservation and drove on the wrong side of Bridgefoot Street and on to Pimlico. He was pursued all the time by a number of garda vehicles. Traffic in the area was heavy at the time.
O'Hara was caught after a chase on foot when the car stopped.
The court heard he had previous convictions, but not for dangerous driving. Defence Solicitor Matthew De Courcy asked Judge Halpin not to add to his sentence.
The court heard O'Hara had worked in shops, restaurants and a warehouse. He had lost his job and run up a "considerable gambling debt".
O'Hara was given an opportunity to pay this off by transporting drugs to a certain location.
He got caught up with some "very unsavoury characters" and was "completely out of his depth".
It was all "one and the same thing" and the driving charges could have been added to the indictment, but were instead prosecuted separately in the District Court.
Judge Halpin suspended the sentence for two years and banned O'Hara from driving for two years.