Gardai arrest suspect in hit-and-run tragedy
Published 26/10/2010 | 05:00
GARDAI have arrested the man suspected of mowing down a college girl in a hit-and-run at the weekend.
Detectives quickly identified who they believe was behind the wheel of the car that raced through traffic lights and ploughed into tragic Kelly Gregan (20), pictured right.
They are now trying to determine whether he was driving a stolen car, the Irish Independent has learned.
It is understood that the man knew gardai were keeping a close eye on his whereabouts.
Officers moved to arrest him after it emerged he had fled his home in Gorey, Co Wexford.
Kelly and her best friend, Gillian Fitzgerald, were crossing the road on Gorey's Main Street just after 2.30 on Sunday morning after leaving a nightclub when the driver ploughed into them.
The man, who is in his 30s and believed to be from the locality, lives with his mother.
He was being held at Gorey garda station late last night, suspected of dangerous driving causing death.
The suspect can be held until this evening, by which time he must be either charged or released.
Gardai involved in the investigation are hoping the suspect will admit to the crime at the earliest opportunity. They have spoken informally to the man's mother in a bid to convince him to "do the right thing".
It is understood that officers had been monitoring the suspect's movements and established that he had fled from his mother's home yesterday.
Gardai then moved in to arrest the suspect, who himself then returned to Gorey at around 4.30pm yesterday afternoon as pressure mounted on him to give himself up.
Officers had initially feared that their investigation would be delayed if he managed to escape. But once the man returned to Gorey, he was arrested for questioning.
It is believed that he had sought a "safe haven" at another address in Co Wexford, but later had a change of heart.
Friends of best pals Kelly and Gillian -- who were inseparable -- last night expressed their "disgust" that the driver had not confessed to the crime.
A devastated Gillian was told of Kelly's death as she remained in Wexford General Hospital for treatment to her injuries.
Insp Mick Walsh said the investigation was "progressing".
He said detectives had questioned a number of people after they volunteered to come to the garda station with information in relation to Kelly's death.
Insp Walsh confirmed gardai had spoken to a "number of men" on Sunday and would be continuing with this process.
However, he said nobody had yet "put their hands up" and admitted the crime.
"We've a number of lines of inquiry that we are pursuing; that is normal in an investigation like this," he told the Irish Independent.
"In situations like this, a lot of peripheral work has to be done in relation to the vehicle -- who had it, who owned it -- before we can put it all together."
He said officers were trying to establish whether the vehicle, which was found burnt out in Kilnahue Lane just outside of Gorey on Sunday morning, had been stolen.
As part of the investigation, searches were carried out in Gorey yesterday, but gardai would not comment on the nature of these searches.
Detectives have interviewed several witnesses who were leaving the nightclub on Main Street and saw what happened on Sunday morning.
They are also trawling through CCTV footage that shows the red car -- believed to have been a Renault Laguna -- speeding through Main Street and ploughing into the girls.
"We'd like to thank the people for their support and we'd also appeal to more people to come forward and contact us if they still have information," Insp Walsh added.
There have been "various discrepancies" in the eyewitness reports given to gardai in relation to how many men were inside the car.
Some people reported seeing one man, but others reported seeing a second male passenger in the vehicle.
Gardai were also using internet social networking sites to help with their inquiries.
Friends of Kelly and Gillian expressed their horror at what had happened.
One woman remarked that she "didn't know what to think of this town anymore". Another young woman said she thought she saw "two guys" in the area on Sunday.
"The car was found burnt out down the road from my house and when I was going home from work, I saw two boys, young guys walking down . . . It's so terrible."
The same woman said she believed one of these men had purchased alcohol from the off-licence where she works.
Another man described it as a "dark day for Gorey" and encouraged the young woman to "tell the cops" what she had seen.
Gardai were following up this discussion yesterday and were expected to talk to the woman with regard to her claims that the man had bought alcohol on the night.
Meanwhile, the community of Inch, where Kelly lived with her mother, Pauline, and two sisters Kirstie (18) and Lorna Gregan (12), was united in mourning yesterday.
The family are making arrangements for Kelly's funeral, which is expected to take place later this week.
Neighbours described how Kelly's mother, who works for the planning department of Wicklow County Council, was numbed by her daughter's death.
Kelly's body reposed in Murphy's funeral home in Gorey from 3pm to 6pm yesterday.
A steady stream of people arrived at the scene on Main Street to leave flowers and mementoes for the tragic student.