Dublin man struck Garda with stolen car, leaving him in a wheelchair

CourtsBy Aoife Nic Ardghail
Garda Ciaran Murrihy
Garda Ciaran Murrihy

A Dublin man who left a garda with life altering leg injuries when he jammed him between a stolen car and a patrol vehicle has been jailed for seven years.

Patrick McDonagh (26) of Bath Road, Balbriggan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to causing serious harm to Gda Ciaran Murrihy at Clonuske Rise, Hamlet Lane, Balbriggan on August 29, 2015.

He further pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment of Gda Murrihy, assaulting Garda Stephen Hughes and Garda Vincent Turley and unlawful use and criminal damage of a vehicle at the same location and date.

Garda Murrihy, who is still in a wheelchair, described in his victim impact statement how he was “haunted” by the vision of  McDonagh  driving the stolen car directly at him seconds later while he was lying on the ground.

Gda Murrihy said he had since gone from being a proud garda and active father-of-two, to feeling “useless”.

“I was so active and now I spend all day, every day doing nothing...It was not meant to be like this”, he said in the statement read out in court by Sergeant Padraig Lynch.

Gda Murrihy outlined how he had been in a “good place” in his 14-year career and had loved the way his children saw him as “their big, strong dad”.

He also paid tribute to his wife, who he said helped him with everything. He described missing work and his formerly busy lifestyle and added that he now only had medical appointments to plan for.

He said McDonagh “stole my life from me and has left me with so little”.

McDonagh has 19 previous convictions, including drunk driving, robbery and aggravated burglary.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed the seven year sentence on the most serious charge.

He imposed a concurrent sentence of three and a half years for the offence of assaulting Gda Hughes. The sentences will date from August 31, 2015 when McDonagh went into custody.

Sgt Lynch told Kathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that Gda Murrihy, Gda Hughes and Garda Lucy Woods spotted the stolen Citroen parked in the estate.

He said McDonagh reversed the vehicle as the gardai approached it on foot from either side and crashed into the patrol car behind, jamming Gda Murrihy.

Gda Murrihy fell on the ground as the Citroen continued moving backwards over his ankle.

McDonagh then drove the vehicle forward while Gda Murrihy was on the ground and sped around the corner into a cul-de-sac, where he crashed the car into a wall and attempted to flee on foot.

He assaulted Gda Turley as he was being arrested and made no admissions during interview, but entered an early guilty plea.

Sgt Lynch accepted that the incident happened very quickly when Garnet Orange SC, defending, suggested it was like “something in a bad movie”.

Mr Orange submitted that his client had been intoxicated on drugs and had not been fully aware of what was going on that night, but had not set out to deliberately harm the gardai.

Additional evidence presented at the trial showed that Gda Murrihy parked the unmarked patrol car behind the Citroen and he and his three colleagues got out and approached the stolen vehicle from either side.

Gda Woods and Hughes recognised McDonagh in the driver's seat and tried to drag him out of the vehicle, but he reversed the Citroen at speed with the steering wheel locked to the right.

Gda Hughes had to hold onto the driver's door and the roof so he wouldn't fall under the vehicle.

Gda Murrihy, who had approached from the passenger side, grabbed the door frame as the car jolted backwards and smashed into the unmarked patrol vehicle. He became trapped between the two vehicles.

McDonagh continued to reverse the vehicle as Gda Murrihy fell to the ground after feeling his leg being stretched. The car ran over the garda's ankle as it went backwards.

Gda Hughes was thrown to the ground when the Citroen's roof became dislodged on impact with the garda car.

Gda Woods used pepper spray on McDonagh, but it had no effect on him and he drove the Citroen forward at speed towards Gda Murrihy on the ground. Sgt Lynch described how it took all of Gda Murrihy's strength to drag himself out of the way of the oncoming car.

The sergeant told Ms Noctor that throughout the whole incident all three officers were screaming and identifying themselves as gardai. McDonagh drove the stolen vehicle around the corner into a cul-de-sac and escaped on foot after crashing into a wall.

Gda Turley arrived on the scene, pursued McDonagh over a green area and tackled him to the ground. McDonagh elbowed the garda in the cheek and mouth and continued to struggle before being eventually arrested.

He made no admissions during interview at the garda station but forensic analysis subsequently matched his DNA to a cigarette butt found in the Citroen, which was written off in the incident.

Mr Orange submitted that what had happened was “undoubtedly appalling” and that anyone who had heard Gda Murrihy's victim impact statement could not help being moved.