A MAN who drove the wrong way up a motorway slip road while being pursued by gardaí has been jailed for four years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
John and Shirley O’Mahony were on their way home from work when Thomas Connors (24) collided head on with their car causing Mrs O’Mahony serious injuries.
Connors had been in a high speed chase with gardaí after officers set out that day to arrest him on foot of a number of outstanding bench warrants.
Gardaí first spotted Connors leaving the Coombe Hospital in a black Peugeot at 2.20pm. His wife was due to give birth to their second child.
The pursuit lasted about two hours and came to an end when he crashed into the couple’s car. He had just performed a U-turn on the motorway and was driving the wrong way up a slip road on the M50 near the Naas Road.
Connors fled the scene after the accident and “lay low” for a number of hours before gardaí spotted him nearby in a taxi.
Gardaí then chased Connors on foot across inbound and outbound lanes of the M7 before he was caught in wasteland and arrested.
Mrs O’Mahony required emergency surgery to deal with a significant cut to her bladder. She continues to suffer distress and requires medication.
Connors of Hillview, Carnew, pleaded guilty to four charges of dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and using false registration plates on July 17, 2012 on the N7, M50 and Dolphin’s Barn area of Dublin.
Connors has 47 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences and was under a number of disqualification orders.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring said this was a series of events that put many road users at risk.
“You set out that day to avoid detection and then when you were caught you took off to save your own skin and you put numerous people at risk,” Judge Ring said.
She said Connors ’actions on the night meant his wife did not have him when she and his infant child needed him most.
“It was a selfish act, a dangerous act and a criminal act,” the judge said before she added that he had also put gardaí at risk by forcing them to chase him across one of the busiest motorways in the country during one of the busiest times of the day. <ENDS>
Detective Garda Frank Lambe told Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, that Connors collided with a cyclist on leaving the hospital before he drove on.
When gardaí moved into arrest him minutes later near Dolphin’s Bridge, he reversed into a parked van twice before driving at gardaí who had to move out of the way to avoid injury.
A man who had been sitting in the van was not injured but €1,700 worth of damage was caused to his vehicle.
Connors then drove off at speed, breaking a red light and driving on the wrong side of the road causing motorists to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
Connors also drove the car onto a footpath causing pedestrians to jump out of the way before he drove over Luas tracks and headed towards the Red Cow Interchange.
Det Gda Lambe said a garda Land Cruiser had been positioned at the N7 in an attempt to stop Connors but also to alert motorists to the danger of a speeding vehicle. This garda had to take evasive action when Connors drove at him.
Connors then drove down the slip road before performing a U-turn and driving back up the slip road the wrong way. He collided with the passenger side of the O’Mahony’s car.
Det Gda Lambe said gardaí accepted that Connors had bought the Peugeot legitimately but then put false registration plates on it.
Victim impact reports from the couple stated that they are both nervous while driving and Mrs O’Mahony has been under “significant psychological distress, is extremely nervous while driving and suffers flashbacks”.
Det Gda Lambe agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending, that his client was co-operative following his arrest and made admissions during his subsequent garda interview.
He accepted that Connors didn’t want to be caught by gardaí that day because his wife was due to give birth. He knew there were outstanding warrants for his arrest and took off at speed to avoid gardaí.
Det Gda Lambe further accepted that Connors had a cannabis problem at the time.
Mr Rea said his client was sincerely sorry for causing the injuries to Mrs O’Mahony and has come off drugs since his remand in prison.