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'sinister crime' Man who forced woman (70) into boot of car during attempted abduction jailed for six years

Martin Gallagher (21) grabbed the pensioner from behind and forced her into the boot of his car during the attack near the Phoenix Park last year.

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Martin Gallagher

Martin Gallagher

Martin Gallagher

A Dublin man has been jailed for six years after attempting to abduct a 70-year-old woman while she was going for a morning walk.

Martin Gallagher (21) grabbed the pensioner from behind and forced her into the boot of his car during the attack near the Phoenix Park last year.

He made several failed attempts to close the lid of the boot while the woman struggled inside, and later told gardaí it was a "joke that went wrong".

Gallagher, of Rusheeney Avenue, Hartstown, Dublin, had pleaded guilty to assaulting and falsely imprisoning the victim on Blackhorse Avenue on January 6, 2020.

This morning Judge Martin Nolan said the victim was going for a walk when suddenly and terrifyingly, for some unknown reason, Gallagher grabbed her.

Judge Nolan said it was a "sinister crime" and that the only inference which can be drawn is that Gallagher was going to drive off with her in the boot, but for the intervention of a good Samaritan.

The judge said he was disregarding Martin Gallagher's explanation that he thought it was a male friend, saying it was clear he was dealing with a woman.

He sentenced the accused to six years in jail for the false imprisonment, and two and a half years for assault causing harm to run concurrently.

At the time of the attack the woman was caring for her now deceased husband who had dementia and in the aftermath of the ordeal he was unable to comfort her.

Evidence was given that she was walking along Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin 7, at around 7.30am when she came across a man standing beside a car with the boot open.

Det Gda Paul Kirwan, of Blanchardstown garda station, said that as the victim passed by, she was grabbed from behind and thrown into the boot of the car.

The court heard Martin Gallagher said nothing as he made three or four attempts to close the boot but couldn't as the woman's legs were dangling out.

The victim was then dragged out and Gallagher tried to put her into the back seat as she continued "kicking and screaming for her life".

After the struggle he then threw her face first to the ground towards a wall before fleeing the scene.

A passer-by on his way to work saw the incident and at first thought it was a man fighting with his child, before stopping and coming to the woman's aid.

She was taken back to her home and gardaí later noted she had severe bruising to her eye sockets, a cut to her face and bruising to her shin bones.

Later that day at 5.45pm the accused was witnessed driving a car matching the description of the vehicle involved and arrested. At first he denied the allegations but later admitted them, claiming it was a joke that went wrong.

Gallagher told gardaí he thought the victim was a friend that he wanted to frighten, saying: "I am really sorry for what I done. It was a joke that went wrong".

The court heard he only gave his friends first name and that the victim in this case was 5ft tall.

Gallagher also told gardaí that he had been drinking that day and the previous night while driving around the area.

The accused's DNA was recovered from the victim's fingernails and he was later charged in relation to the incident.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said that she still has nightmares and frightening thoughts "about what would have happened if I had not got out of that boot of that car."

She said that she was caring for her husband at the time who suffered with dementia and passed away last October.

"I've had to go through all of this and my husband couldn't even comfort me," she said in her statement read to the court by Det Sgt Maeve Ward.

"My husband didn't know why I was crying all the time and why my face was black, blue and swollen. When I think back to the life I had I can't stop crying," the woman said.

"I want to make it clear about this, he took me from behind. I looked into his face as I lay in that boot. I was afraid for my life," she added.

In mitigation Gallagher's defence counsel said that he had not previously come to the attention of gardaí for criminality, having only one previous conviction for a speeding offence.

Counsel also said that Gallagher was remorseful and shameful for what he had done, and that he was taking drugs at the time of the incident.

The court also heard he has been in custody for over a year and hadn't tried to make a bail application to the High Court.


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