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Thursday 19 October 2017

Deranged man knifes garda then goes on airport runway rampage

'Lunatic' driver taunts security officials as he tries to ram two planes

A damaged airport police car, with the hijacked fire brigade vehicle in the background, at Cork airport yesterday
A damaged airport police car, with the hijacked fire brigade vehicle in the background, at Cork airport yesterday

Ralph Riegel and Michael Carr

A DERANGED man stabbed a garda, stole a traffic patrol vehicle and then smashed through an airport perimeter security fence before attempting to ram two parked planes.

The man's 15-minute rampage -- in which a second garda was injured in a ramming incident -- only ended when he was disabled by a Garda Regional Support Unit (RSU) taser gun on the airport tarmac.

Before being disabled by RSU officers, the man had stripped down to his boxer shorts and had repeatedly taunted both gardai and airport police as he sped around the tarmac at Cork Airport.

The man -- who is in his 40s and originally from Waterford, though resident in Cork for several years -- was last night being questioned at Togher garda station over the bizarre rampage, which sparked the greatest security threat at Cork Airport in its 50-year history.

One aviation official admitted it was a "miracle" the incident didn't end in tragedy given the consequences of the stolen vehicle striking a fuel-laden aircraft or crossing a runway while a plane was landing.

One witness, John Peavoy, watched the drama unfold as he waited to board a flight.

"The lunatic somehow got onto the airport apron and when confronted by two fire personnel, dragged one out of his fire vehicle and began to speed around the airport erratically, taunting the police with his arm out the window," he wrote on Twitter.

"Tyres were smoking from the speed. Eventually he crashed into the corner of a luggage truck and got out . . . The guy was then tasered. It was a very tense situation," he added.

Delays

Gardai, the Garda Ombudsman and Irish aviation officials have all begun separate investigations into the incident.

Cork Airport said no official was injured and no aircraft was damaged during the incident.

"The airport remained operational though there were some slight delays for a few flights around 5pm," an airport spokesperson told the Irish Independent.

Two injured gardai were recovering in Cork University Hospital (CUH) and the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) last night after what one senior officer described as "the most bizarre rampage ever encountered in the city over recent years".

The chaos began when a garda sitting in a traffic patrol vehicle parked on Patrick Street in Cork city centre was approached by a middle-aged man at 4.30pm.

Without warning, the man dragged the uniformed garda from the vehicle, punched him several times and then slashed him across the face with a 12-inch kitchen knife.

The man then sped off in the patrol vehicle while horrified shoppers ran to the assistance of the bleeding garda.

The stolen vehicle was then driven at high speed down the Grand Parade, South Mall and on to the South Link Road in the direction of Cork Airport.

It ploughed into four different cars as it sped towards the airport -- with one woman driver suffering minor injuries.

Several garda units responded to the alert and the stolen vehicle ploughed into one patrol car near the entrance to Cork Airport.

A garda was partially thrown from the vehicle by the force of the collision. He was later transferred to CUH, though his injuries are not understood to be life-threatening.

The stolen vehicle then ploughed at high speed through the old airport security fence.

The man was confronted by airport police and fire brigade personnel -- and was forced to abandon the badly damaged garda vehicle.

However, he brandished his knife and dragged two fire brigade officials from their airport vehicle.

He drove off and then attempted to ram two parked planes but was frustrated by airport security vehicles.

The airport vehicle eventually collided with two vehicles, the last of which was a luggage transporter, before it stalled.

The man was then confronted by armed RSU officers. When he refused to get out of the vehicle, a garda fired a taser gun and successfully disabled him.

He was provided with medical attention last night and is expected to appear before the District Court. A file on the matter will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Irish Independent

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