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Hit-and-run driver made up 'fantasy shooting' after fleeing scene

His false statement cost thousands in wasted garda resources, court hears.

Michael Hanley

Andrew Phelan

A hit-and-run driver lied to gardaí that he left the scene of a crash because he had been shot in the stomach and was fleeing a gunman.

Businessman Michael Hanley (32) made up the "fantasy shooting" after he lost control of his van and hit two parked cars.

Hanley's false statement cost thousands of euro in wasted garda time and resources as they tried to track down the fictitious shooter in a Volkswagen Golf that he claimed had been chasing him, Blanchardstown District Court heard.

Judge John King gave the father-of-four a six-month suspended sentence, banned him from driving for a year and fined him €1,000.

Funeral and wedding carriage business owner Hanley, of Portland Row in the north inner city, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and making a false statement.

Garda Amy Cunningham said on August 12 last year, a 4x4 driver had pulled in to take a phone call at Barberstown Lane, Lucan, when it was struck by a van, which left the scene.

A second car was also hit, but nobody was injured.

A local taxi driver provided a picture of two men leaving the area - one was identified as the accused.

The van was parked up the road and Gda Cunningham established that it was registered to Hanley's company.

When she went to his house, Hanley initially said he could not have been involved in a crash because he had been in a shop but she checked this and it was not true.

The accused maintained an employee of his was driving but "that person was found to be fictitious".

On August 21, he presented himself at Lucan garda station and provided a statement saying he had been "shot in the side of his stomach minutes before the crash had happened" and he had lost control while trying to flee from a black VW Golf that had been chasing him.

He admitted driving and striking the two vehicles and was insured and licensed.

"Gardaí set up a search team to look for the gun, bullets and vehicle involved," Gda Cunningham said.

A detective was assigned to examine CCTV and spent several days doing so, but as the van was tracked "the whole way around Lucan village", he could not find the Golf.

Hanley handed himself in in February this year and admitted providing misleading information.

In a lengthy interview, he "cracked" and said he "just panicked and left the scene and made it up", Gda Cunningham said.

He admitted a scar he showed gardaí was from a procedure he had done.

The accused had a lengthy previous criminal record but most of his convictions were "spent".

The garda agreed with defence solicitor Sandra Frayne that Hanley had been "very emotional" when he made his admissions.

Ms Frayne said Hanley was someone who "doesn't react well under pressure".

The actual reason he struck the cars was because there was a hump back bridge and he did not know the road.

"He made a bad situation a lot worse by what he did," Ms Frayne said.

Judge King asked why he had made up a "fantasy shooting".

Ms Frayne said there had been "some shooting" involving a friend but what he said was "completely incorrect".

Hanley's business provided carriages for weddings and funerals and it "wasn't operative" because of Covid.

Judge King asked how much the case would have cost the "overworked and under- resourced gardaí".

Gda Cunningham agreed that it would have cost "thousands in manpower and additional resources."

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