Habitual DUI offender sentenced

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Belfast man who was found guilty in two jury trials this fall was sentenced on Wednesday, the day after his 48th birthday.

John E. Lynch was found guilty in September of driving after having been declared a habitual motor vehicle offender, felony driving under the influence, and violation of the implied consent law.

On Oct. 13, Lynch had another jury trial and was found guilty on the charge of failure to appear.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler sentenced Lynch to a total of 11 years in prison, of which he must serve 35 percent, or just less than four years, before being eligible for parole. Lynch was also sentenced to 11 months 29 days in the county jail for violation of the implied consent law, and ordered to serve 75 percent of that, or 274 days.

He has a pre-trial jail credit of 129 days.

Lynch was arrested on the driving offenses after running a stop sign on Belfast Avenue in December 2007, and he was indicted by the grand jury in February 2008.

He had a jury trial set for Aug. 4, 2008, but did not appear. The next month, Marshall County was notified that Lynch was in the Monroe County Jail in Key West, Fla. after being arrested on Sept. 6 on DUI and other charges.

The Florida authorities promised to notify officials here when Lynch was ready for extradition and he arrived in Marshall County on June 28, 2010.

Crigler set Lynch's bond at $500,000 to prevent him from fleeing the county again.

Jim Grimes of the Board of Probation and Parole was unable to get Lynch's cooperation for his pre-sentence report.

"I don't want to talk to you," Lynch said to Grimes when he came to interview him for the report, though he did comment, "They are all crooks. If you are working for the state then you are a crook."

Grimes did have the benefit of a 2005 report by Beth Flatt that noted Lynch "has worked as a mechanic most of his adult life."

The report lists a series of different mechanic jobs Lynch has held, all with the dismal notation, "lost when he went to jail." Lynch's criminal record fills three pages of his case file.

The DUI for which he was indicted in 2008 was his 11th in Tennessee, starting in 1993.

He was declared a habitual motor vehicle offender (HMVO) in 1996, and has three prior convictions for violating that order.

According to Flatt's report, Lynch was born and raised in Melrose, Mass., and moved to Tennessee when he was 22 years old.