A thug driver who led police on a high speed chase with a young baby “rattling around” in a car seat strapped together with DUCT TAPE has been jailed.
Martin McDonagh, 27, sped through red lights and nearly ran over two pedestrians after mounting a pavement during the terrifying pursuit on August 2.
A court heard the entire chase took place in Rugby, Warks., with a baby girl “bouncing around” in the unsecured shell of a child seat which was in a “truly horrendous” state.
When police eventually stopped the vehicle they discovered the five-month-old tot unrestrained and sitting on the seat’s straps which were held together with duct tape.
McDonagh, of Barnsley, South Yorks., originally denied charges of child cruelty and dangerous driving but changed his plea to guilty on Wednesday (11/11).
He was jailed for 26 months and banned from driving for four years and three months after he also admitted driving while disqualified and having no insurance.
Sentencing at Warwick Crown Court, Judge Barry Berlin said: “Officers had to force you out of the car to arrest you.
“An officer then went and looked in the back and saw a young baby, four to six months old, in a child seat sitting on top of the belts, and the seat was not secured to the car.
“The state of the seat was truly horrendous.
“That child could well have been killed or seriously injured as a result of your appalling driving.
“This was a deliberate disregard for the welfare of the child who was bouncing around in the rear without any restraint.”
McDonagh was also caged for a further four months for a later common assault on his wife, to which he previously pleaded guilty.
Prosecutor James Bruce said the child cruelty charge was a result of McDonagh exposing the baby “in a manner liable to cause her unnecessary suffering.”
The court heard she had been put in the shell of a child seat which had no foam padding in the back of McDonagh’s VW Bora car.
The chase began following a mistaken report that a group of people including McDonagh had left a restaurant without paying and driven away.
Officers responding to the call pulled out of Rugby police station car park, turned right and saw the suspect’s car coming towards them.
But McDonagh mounted the pavement to get past the police car and sped away towards the town’s gyratory system.
McDonagh swerved between other traffic as he sped along Corporation Street and then went through a red light at the junction with Warwick Street.
He then veered into St Matthew Street, forcing two pedestrian who were crossing the road to jump back to avoid being hit, before having to stop at a dead end.
As the officers pulled up behind the Bora they could see McDonagh desperately trying to swap seats with his passenger in a bid to avoid responsibility for the driving.
Mr Bruce said: “All of this takes place with the child rattling around in the back, exposing the child to risk of harm by not having her secured and then embarking on a police chase.
“There was a disregard for the welfare of the child who had no protection whatsoever, so there was a high likelihood of harm being caused.”
While on bail for those matters, McDonagh attended a family funeral in Sheffield and went to the wake, in breach of a curfew he was subject to as a condition of his bail.
He began to argue with his wife in the lobby of a hotel and knocked her to the floor where he hit her, stamped on her body and dragged her around.
Paul Dhami, defending, said: “The two charges overlap, and the driving was for a relatively short distance lasting a couple of minutes.
“I accept there was a disregard for the welfare of that child in the rear of the car, but it was for a relatively short time and there was no injury.
“It is accepted by Mr McDonagh that had there been an accident the potential for injury was present.
“He is horrified at his behaviour on both occasions he falls to be sentenced for.”