SALEM – Judge lifted curfew and GPS requirement for Saugus man awaiting trial on drunk driving and other charges stemming from 2019 reverse accident on Highway 1 .
Thomas Neirinckx, 23, of 269 Central Street, Saugus, allegedly crossed the legal limit three times on the evening of August 11, 2019, when he drove the wrong way in the northbound lanes of Route 1 via Peabody and Lynnfield , before a collision with a car driven by an elderly couple, state police said in their report.
In addition to driving while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury, he faces charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, leaving the scene of an accident involving bodily injury and property damage, and for resisting his arrest.
Salem Superior Court Judge Salim Tabit conceded: “There are few things I can think of more dangerous” than someone who drives drunk. But by the end of the hearing, Tabit had agreed to lift the curfew and GPS, saying the law requires him to impose only the least restrictive conditions to ensure public safety.
A lawyer for the accused had argued that Nierinckx was unable to work overtime due to the curfew.
The elderly couple were seriously injured, prosecutor Michael Sheehan told a Salem Superior Court judge on Monday, and one of them spent a long time in a rehabilitation hospital. A tire from Nierinckx’s van then struck another vehicle, containing a woman and her children. They were not injured.
Unable to restart the truck after the crash, Nierinckx crossed the highway and found himself in the woods behind a car dealership, where state police caught up with him. He was arrested after a brief struggle. Police described him in their report as being more concerned about where to retrieve his damaged truck, which had been towed, and where his cigarettes had gone, than the condition of the victims.
But on Monday, Nierinckx’s attorney, Desmond FitzGerald, said he sent money from his paycheck as an apprentice plumber to the victims, through his office. FitzGerald said the terms of release, first imposed by a Peabody District Court judge and then set again earlier this month following the indictment and arraignment of Nierinckx before the Superior Court, were unnecessary and impeded his client’s ability to accept overtime.
The conditions of release originally included house arrest, prosecutor Michael Sheehan told the judge. They have been modified to allow Nierinckx to work, with a curfew between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Sheehan said that while Nierinckx has not breached any of the conditions since they were first imposed, he believes they are still necessary to ensure public safety.
He said the victims still struggle daily to recover and rebuild their lives.
Sheehan said he was also unable to confirm what FitzGerald said about Nierinckx sending money to victims, but noted that this was irrelevant to whether he represented a danger. He urged the judge to keep the existing conditions in place.
FitzGerald, who has repeatedly called his client a “boy,” said Nierinckx “made a bad choice” and spent three days in jail after his arrest. He told Tabit that his client had 1,916 blood alcohol tests, which are done remotely three times a day.
“Terrible things have happened,” said FitzGerald. “This poor couple suffered terrible consequences.”
Payments, he said, were sent to his office and then passed on to victims. Nierinckx is under a court order not to have any contact with the couple or any of the witnesses in the case.
FitzGerald told Tabit that restricting Nierinckx’s ability to work overtime was “unfair and unreasonable” and would hurt elderly victims.
Tabit rejected the argument that Nierinckx is a “boy”, claiming that “people younger than him die on the battlefield”.
Nierinckx will always have to wear a blood alcohol monitor and submit to tests. The judge also ordered that he have no contact with victims and witnesses, that he keep his current job and that he does not use any drugs, including marijuana, unless he has a medical marijuana card.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 23.
Court reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.