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suspended sentence Man who crashed car during garda pursuit and later claimed car had been stolen avoids jail

After writing off his then partner's car by crashing into a tree, Michael McDonagh (30) fled from the scene

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Criminal Courts of Justice

Criminal Courts of Justice

Criminal Courts of Justice

A man who crashed a car during a high speed garda pursuit and later claimed that the car had been stolen has received a fully suspended sentence.

After writing off his then partner's car by crashing into a tree, Michael McDonagh (30) fled from the scene.

His then partner later made a a report to Gardaí claiming that the car had been stolen during a burglary and a claim was also made to an insurance company.

Gardaí seized the mobile phones of McDonagh and his partner and found messages which indicated that McDonagh had been driving the car and he had asked his partner to make a statement that it was stolen.

McDonagh of Nutgrove Crescent, Rathfarnham pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to knowingly making a false statement at Tallaght Garda Station on April 3, 2020.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to deceive RSA insurance at RSA House, Dundrum, on dates between April 3 and May 5, 2020. He has one previous conviction for drink driving for which he received a four year driving ban.

Passing sentence  on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan said it seems McDonagh decided to evade gardaí for “whatever reason”, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into “a very valuable tree”.

Judge Nolan said a “totally false” report was made about the car being stolen, as well as a claim to an insurance company. He said this was “pretty confounding” as the defendant must have known the gardaí had “strong suspicions”.

The judge said this was “certainly a stupid decision”, but said it seems the insurance claim was always going to fail. He said McDonagh was “probably unlikely” to offend to this degree in the future.

Judge Nolan sentenced McDonagh to two years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions.

Garda Vincent Jaffray told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that on March 29, 2020, he was on patrol in a garda car when he saw McDonagh drive by and turned the patrol car around in order to speak with him.

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Gda Jaffray said McDonagh took off at speed, eventually crashing into a tree in the Jobstown area and fleeing the scene. The cost of replacing the tree was calculated to be just over €2,000.

Gardaí found an ID belonging to McDonagh in the car and determined that the car itself belonged to his then partner. They attended at McDonagh and his then partner's address, where they were informed McDonagh could not have been driving as he was isolating with Covid-19.

A statement was later made to gardaí that the car had been stolen. Gardaí made contact with the insurance company, who informed them that a claim for €7,000 had been made in respect of the car.

Gda Jaffray said he obtained a search warrant for McDonagh's address and phones belonging to him and his then partner were seized.

The garda said that no money was ever paid out by the insurance company. He said that there was a loan outstanding on the car at the time of the crash and that the car was “a total write-off”.

The court heard that McDonagh and his partner have split up following the incident and that he currently resides with his mother. McDonagh works as a hospital care assistant.

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