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Mother breaks down in tears as son is jailed over 'dangerous' car chase

McDonagh of Coldcut Cresent, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
McDonagh of Coldcut Cresent, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

A young man involved in a high-speed chase with a car he bought on DoneDeal for €100 has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.

John McDonagh (20) was driving the car when he came across garda checkpoint. A guard stood in the road, indicating that McDonagh should stop.

Instead, he sped up, and the guard had to jump out of the lane in order to avoid being hit.

McDonagh of Coldcut Cresent, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to endangerment and dangerous driving at locations in Clondalkin, Dublin on 9 August 2016.

Garda Vincent Daly told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that he and his colleague then gave chase to the Nissan Almera McDonagh was driving. He continued at speed down the Nangor Road in Clondalkin, travelling over 120kph in a 60kph zone.

McDonagh then drove in the wrong lane and through a red light on the wrong side of the road, not paying attention to other road users. His car then skidded sideways, forcing other drivers to stop in order to avoid a collision. The Nissan continued on at 100 kph in a 50kph zone.

As the chase continued McDonagh went onto the Kylemore Park Road, driving toward the Kylemore junction. He went through the busy T-junction there on the wrong side of the road, accelerating hard and fast once he got onto the Kylemore Road, forcing his way through two lanes of traffic.

McDonagh then met another car head on, and the other car was forced onto a footpath where there was a pedestrian, who was not injured. He sped on, narrowly avoiding a second head-on collision.

Gda Daly and his colleague then lost the Nissan but saw it again the JFK Drive.

McDonagh then drove head-on towards the garda vehicle, hitting the passenger side. The gardaí were thrown around the van.

Gda Daly told Judge Martin Nolan he believed that McDonagh intentionally hit the garda van. He said the car “could have easily moved”.

He said McDonagh came around the corner on the wrong side of the road and then maintained his position. Gda Daly said he had to be the one to swerve away.

The chase continued down the wrong side of the Kylemore Road, before McDonagh stopped the car. He and his passenger got out of the car, surrendered themselves to gardaí and were taken to Ballyfermot Garda Station.

When asked for driving documents Mr McDonagh failed to produce any.

Kenny Kearns, BL, defending, said McDonagh has five sisters and was an active member of his family. One has special needs, and his mother, who was in court, depended on him for help with this sister.

“He’s a very young man and made a very foolish, rash and dangerous act,” Mr Kearns said. “It was actions of panic. He shouldn’t have purchased a car.

“The difficulty is that this one incident is going to mark him for the rest of his life.”

Judge Nolan said Gda Daly could be dead if he hadn’t moved out of the way as McDonagh drove towards the garda vehicle. He also said McDonagh endangered all the other road users that he encountered during the chase.

Judge Nolan noted McDonagh’s guilty plea, as well as his role in his family and the fact he has no previous convictions.

Judge Nolan referred to the incidents as “very, very serious” and imposed a five year prison sentence, with the final three and a half years suspended.

Mr McDonagh’s mother began to cry in court as her son accepted his sentence.