Young man with "severe mental disabilities" tried to hijack woman's car

Young man with "severe mental disabilities" tried to hijack woman's car

A man with significant mental disabilities who tried to hijack a woman’s car is to be assessed for community service.

Daniel Byrne (21) is in the bottom one per percentile of mental abilities and left a special needs school at 14 years old.

His defence counsel Anne Marie Lawlor BL said he is “someone with very specific needs”.

She said he “isn’t someone who has won the genetic lottery” but agreed with Judge Martin Nolan that he knows the difference between right and wrong.

Byrne of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempting to seize a car through intimidation on Old Lucan Road, Palmerstown on October 29, 2013.

Byrne’s grandfather, Charles Byrne, said he has raised the accused since birth as his mother was unable to care for him. He described him as someone with “severe mental disabilities” including ADHD and compulsive behaviour.

The witness agreed with Ms Lawlor that Byrne has been abiding by very strict bail conditions since his arrest and has been spending most of his time in his room.

Judge Martin Nolan said his crime was “not too bad” and that he was going to take what is an unusual step for him and order the accused be assessed by the Probation Service for his suitability for community service. He remanded Byrne on continuing bail until June 6 next.

During the sentencing hearing Garda Bernard Eustace told prosecuting counsel Pieter Le Vert BL that the woman was parking her car and getting ready to go into work when she noticed Byrne, who had blood on his face, in her rear view mirror.

Byrne ran towards the car and tried to open the passenger door but the victim had locked it in time. She later told gardaí she thought he had a screwdriver in his hand.

Byrne fled and was picked up by gardaí shortly afterwards. He was interviewed and told officers that he intended to rob the car so he could drive to his family in the country. He made full admission and cooperated with gardaí.

A victim impact report from the woman stated that she has had to change jobs because of the attack as she was reminded of it every time she went into work. She said she suffered nightmares for months after the incident.

Byrne has 32 previous convictions including three for assaulting causing harm.

Ms Lawlor said he was “absolutely intoxicated” at the time of the attempted hijacking and had spent the previous night in hospital with self inflicted injuries.

Conor Gallagher