Saturday 1 November 2014

Strict bail condition on road rampage accused includes a ban on sitting in front seat of any vehicle

Violent city centre road rampage caused 'serious risk to life', court hears

Andrew Phelan

Published 20/02/2014 | 19:16

Emergency services at the scene (Photo: Fabiano Pallonetto)
A driver is cut from his vehicle at the scene (Photo: Fabiano Pallonetto)
Damage on cars in Ranelagh (Photo: Fabiano Pallonetto)

A strict bail condition on a man accused of driving a stolen van in a city centre road rampage includes a ban on sitting in the front seat of any vehicle.

The road rampage, in which a garda van was among five vehicles allegedly rammed caused a "serious risk to life", it has been alleged.

A court has been told how the stolen Eircom van led officers on a high-speed chase through south Dublin, ending in a multiple vehicle collision in Ranelagh, after which three people were hospitalised.

Last night's alleged incident was described during a bail hearing in the case of a father-of-one accused of driving the van.

Shane Connell (26) was granted bail by Judge Bryan Smyth at Dublin District Court but remanded in custody until he is able to take it up. Strict conditions of his bail include a ban on sitting in the front seat of any vehicle.

He was the second man to be brought before the court today in connection with the rampage - Stephen Kelly (19) of Windmill Park, Crumlin was earlier bailed on a charge of being a passenger in a stolen vehicle. Two young women were also arrested and have been released from custody.

Mr Connell, with an address at Belcamp Grove, Priorswood is charged with unlawful use of a stolen vehicle at George's Street South.

Garda Nathan Burke said he arrested the defendant at Ranelagh Road at 10.10pm last night and brought him to Pearse Street station, where he made no reply to the charge after caution.

He objected to bail being granted, citing the "nature and seriousness" of the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment on conviction.

He said it was alleged that the accused stole an Eircom Opel Vectra Van at George's Street South at 9.50pm last night.

The driver called the gardai and the van was seen driving erratically before taking a sharp u-turn toward Kevin Street.

Gardai followed as the van sped on the wrong side of the road and through a red light at a junction into oncoming traffic. All four wheels were off the road as it passed over speed ramps, Garda Burke continued.

Oncoming traffic had to take evasive action to avoid collision. The van was driven against the flow of traffic on Charlemont Street and mounted the footpath to get around cars.

It was alleged the van came away from the path and swerved into a patrol van, which it rammed. It drove over the canal bridge on the wrong side and through another red light into Ranelagh Village, where there was "a high volume of traffic and pedestrians".

Two parked cars were damaged on Ranelagh Road and three moving vehicles were rammed from the rear, it was alleged. Three people were taken to hospital, one of them seriously injured.

The van came to a halt after it lost a wheel and Mr Connell was arrested coming from the driver's seat, Garda Burke alleged.

"There was serious risk to life in the incident if evasive action was not taken by motorists and pedestrians", Garda Burke said.

Defence Solicitor Tony Collier said there was only one charge before the court and it bore no resemblance to the allegations made in evidence.

Garda Burke said there was a possibility of further charges being brought and a file was being prepared for the DPP.

Mr Collier said his client was unemployed and his means were "quite straitened".

Judge Smyth set bail in the accused's own bond of €250, with no cash lodgement required, and an independent surety of €1,500, half of which must be lodged in cash.

Conditions are that the defendant stays out of Dublin 2, 6 and 8, signs on three days per week at his local garda station, observes a curfew and does not sit in the front seat of any vehicle.

He was remanded in custody with consent to bail, to appear in Cloverhill District Court on February 27.

Mr Connell, wearing a grey-blue top and dark jeans did not address the court during the hearing.

His co-accused, Stephen Kelly, was remanded on bail to appear in Dublin District Court on April 3, for the directions of the DPP.

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