MIDDLETON — On the night of his arrest, following a high-speed cat-and-mouse game with police that left a deputy sheriff injured last February, Paul Tierney told police, “I can’t go back to jail.”
Yesterday, Tierney, 34, of Wilmington, knew he would be going back to jail for what prosecutors allege — and for what he admitted, albeit briefly — was his third drunken-driving arrest.
But when a judge told him just how long he’d be sent away — three years — Tierney balked, took back his guilty plea, and through his attorney, demanded a trial.
“Good luck with that,” said Salem District Court Judge Michael Lauranzano.
“He was a menace that night,” Lauranzano said. “Somebody could have been badly injured or killed, and there’s no excuse.”
Lauranzano called the recommendation of prosecutors for three years in jail, followed by a lengthy period of probation, “immensely reasonable” and expressed surprise that Tierney was not indicted over the incidents that night, which began with a stop on Interstate 95.
Prosecutor Alex Grimes read at length from police reports recounting what happened in the early morning hours of Feb. 27.
Tierney, who told police he was on his way home from a rock concert in Hampton, N.H., was first stopped by state police on Route 95. But he allegedly took off, losing the trooper in the darkness.
Then, Grimes said, he was spotted on the grounds of the Middleton Jail around 2 a.m., where correctional officers doing a patrol saw the red Kia SUV approaching the main gate. One sheriff’s deputy tried to stop him, but Tierney accelerated toward him, striking him in the leg, causing bruising and swelling, Grimes said.
Police believe Tierney had no idea where he was at the time.
“It’s likely he was lost and not in possession of his faculties to figure out where he was,” Grimes said.