Disqualified driver chased down M50 by 10 garda cars at speeds up to 200kph
A disqualified driver who was pursued down the M50 by ten garda patrol cars reaching speeds of up 200 kilometres per hour has been given a five and a half year sentence.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Andrew Allen (38) had recently been warned by gardai that his life was in danger and said he panicked when an unmarked garda patrol car signalled him to pull over.
Garda Paul Doona told the court that the pursuit which began in Finglas and ended in Carrickmines lasted about 30 minutes but that Allen had first encountered a marked garda patrol car four minutes after the chase began. He collided with two patrol cars during the incident.
He said at the end of the pursuit along the M50 from the N3 to Carrickmines Allen was being followed by approximately ten marked patrol cars with sirens and lights activated.
Allen, of Corduff Crescent, Corduff, Dublin pleaded guilty to endangerment, dangerous driving and driving without insurance at various locations in the city on October 7, 2015.
Allen also pleaded guilty to burglary at a house on the Navan Road on April 11, 2016.
He has 87 previous convictions, including 53 previous road traffic offences and was disqualified from driving at the time of these offences.
Judge Patricia Ryan imposed sentences totalling five and a half years with the final year suspended and ordered one year probation supervision.
Fiona Murphy BL, defending, said Allen offered a full apology for his actions. She said there was no doubt that some time into the pursuit he could not but realise it was gardai who were following him.
Ms Murphy said he had panicked in light of receiving the warning of a threat on his life and felt he was in severe danger. She said he was currently using his time in custody well and making efforts to turn his life around.
During evidence heard in court Gda Doona told Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that gardai observed two men in a Toyota car acting suspiciously on Barry Road in Finglas at about 9.30pm. He said they activated their siren and the car gave an indication it would pull over before accelerating away.
Allen, who was driving the Toyota, overtook a number of vehicles and drove on the wrong side of the road at speeds in excess of 120 kmph in a 50 kmph zone. The pursuit continued along River Road, described as a narrow country road with blind sweeping bends.
Allen overtook a jeep on a blind bend forcing an oncoming vehicle to brake suddenly. Gardai were unable to safely get past the jeep for about 20 second and lost sight of the Toyota.
Further gardai continued the high speed pursuit of Allen along the N3 before he continued onto the M50 after breaking a red light at a major junction governing six lanes of traffic.
During the high speed pursuit Allen mounted a footpath at a roundabout to manoeuvre around other traffic, collided with two patrol cars, narrowly avoided a collision with other vehicles at a level crossing and drove on the wrong side of the road.
He travelled southbound on the M50 weaving between lanes and travelling on the hard shoulder at high speed.
Gda Doona said Allen was travelling at 180 kmph and at times in excess of 200 kmph. One of his tyres became detached from the wheel and debris scattered in the path of gardai.
Allen veered onto slip roads off the motorway as if to take an exit before veering back at the last minute into the path of other road users. Near Leopardstown he collided with the rear bumper of a garda patrol car and came to a stop surrounded by garda vehicles.
Allen, a disqualified driver, was also found to be driving without insurance.
The court heard no gardai or civilians were injured during the pursuit. Allen received medical treatment for minor injuries.
Gda Doona agreed with Ms Murphy that prior to the offences Allen had received a warning from gardai that there was a substantial threat to his life and that he had been wearing a bullet proof vest.
He agreed that Allen's initial interaction had been with an unmarked patrol car and gardai in plain clothes. He agreed it was not unreasonable that Allen had panicked and believed they were not members of the gardai.
Garda Padraig Walsh told Ms Noctor that in April 2016 Allen was involved in a burglary on the Navan Road in which a resident of a house woke up to find a man in his bedroom. He shouted at the man who fled. He was arrested after he was found hiding behind a bus shelter.
He was on bail for a number of the earlier road traffic offences at the time of the burglary.
Ms Murphy said her client had a difficult childhood, left school early before falling into drug use and criminality as he hung around with an older crowd. He began a cycle of crime, prison and relapsing into drug use on release.
She said had previously shown he was able to reform his life but he was having difficulties with heroin at the time of this offence.