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No jail for garda crash death driver with 51 prior convictions

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Raymond Dowdall
Raymond Dowdall

A DUBLIN man, who was jailed for a notorious joyriding crash that killed two gardai, has been given a suspended sentence for new motoring offences.

Raymond Dowdall (30), who was given an eight-year sentence and a 30-year road ban in 2003, is now working for a security company, a court heard today.

Dowdall of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, was the driver of a stolen Mazda MX5 when it smashed into a patrol car containing Garda Anthony Tighe (53) and Garda Michael Padden (27) on the Stillorgan dual carriageway in the early hours of April 14, 2002. He was aged 16 at the time and already had a litany of prior criminal convictions.

The father-of-one, who now works for a security firm, appeared at Dublin District Court today. He entered guilty pleas via his barrister to two motoring offences: driving without insurance and a licence, on July 13 last year at Galtymore Road.

He turned up late for his hearing and a bench warrant was issued but Judge Hugh O'Donnell cancelled it when Dowdall's barrister explained that he had arrived and that there was a guilty plea.

Garda Marcus Regan, of Sundrive Road station, told Judge O'Donnell that Dowdall has 51 prior criminal convictions. They included two counts of dangerous driving causing death of gardai for which Dowdall received an eight year sentence and a 30-year road ban, said Gda Regan. He also said the man had four previous convictions for driving without insurance.

Judge O'Donnell noted that the accused had been driving while disqualified when he committed his latest offence.

Gda Regan agreed with the defence barrister that Dowdall, who did not address the court, had been co-operative and had not been driving dangerously.

In pleas for leniency, Judge O'Donnell was told that Dowdall had gone to his partner's house and took her car after a row. 

He has a young child to care for and is apologetic. The court heard that he is now working for a security firm and would do anything to avoid going in to custody. He was willing to do community service, counsel also said.

Judge O'Donnell noted that he has already served an eight-year sentence but added "it does not seem to have worked".

He imposed a five-month jail sentence but suspended it on condition that Dowdall does not re-offend for the next two years. Fines totalling €750 were also imposed but Judge O'Donnell said there would be no point imposing another road ban because Dowdall is already suspended from driving.