Boy (16) held after 220kmh chase across three counties in stolen car
A 16-YEAR-OLD boy has been arrested after driving at speeds of up to 220kmh (140mph) in an Audi A4 that was stolen from a family home and used in two other robberies.
The teenager, from Tallaght in west Dublin, led gardai in a high-speed chase across three counties – and even smashed through toll barriers without slowing down – before finally being caught after a 'stinger' device was deployed to blow out the tyres.
He was one of a number of teenagers recruited by a notorious gang to drive high-powered cars stolen during burglaries across the country.
The teenagers are being used by the gangs because there is little the authorities can do to punish them until they reach 18.
On Tuesday, an Audi was stolen when burglars broke into a house in Longford town at around 3am and took the keys.
It was then driven with a second Audi to nearby Edgeworthstown, where the gang was spotted by gardai after an attempted break-in.
The thieves drove off at speed and lost the patrol car, which was unable to keep up with the high-powered motors.
The stolen car was spotted again by gardai after another burglary, this time at a house in Castlepollard, Co Westmeath, at around 4am. One of the thieves mooned at the owner of the house before jumping into the stolen car.
Garda cars then tried to pursue the Audi, which took the motorway back to Dublin, reaching what sources described as "absolutely crazy speeds".
"The car was hitting crazy speeds of up to 220kmh and smashed through the barrier at the tolls, not even slowing down," a source told the Irish Independent.
The garda helicopter was scrambled to monitor the stolen car from the air and co-ordinated ground units, which intercepted it at Lucan, west Dublin, around 4.30am. The young driver was arrested at the scene and items from two earlier burglaries were recovered.
"The gang are recruiting these kids in much the same way the McCarthy/Dundons enlisted kids to do their dirty work in Limerick.
"They see the teens as dispensable and easily manipulated; they won't talk when they are arrested and there is nowhere to put them," a security source said. "The teenagers have to be dealt with mostly through the juvenile liaison scheme for young offenders and it is not much of a deterrent. We have to wait until they are 18 or 19 before we can put them in custody.
"They are extremely reckless and it is only a matter of time before one of them is killed or seriously injured or kills innocent motorists on the road."
In a similar incident four weeks ago, a 17-year-old was arrested in a high–powered car in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, following a spate of burglaries. It later emerged that the youth had been arrested on three earlier occasions while driving stolen cars at speed.
The ringleaders of the gang are members of two notorious traveller families from Tallaght who have been involved in organised crime for three decades. The suspects, who are all aged in their mid- to late-20s, are top of the garda most-wanted list of dangerous criminals operating in the country.
They are one of at least three Dublin-based gangs, from Clondalkin, Ballyfermot and Tallaght, who have been using the motorway network to carry out burglaries in towns and villages throughout rural Ireland. In several cases, they have smashed up garda cars and threatened unarmed officers.
The thugs involved are also described as being forensically aware and wear socks over their shoes so as not to leave footprints at scenes.
In April, the Irish Independent revealed how they are using night-vision goggles to drive at high speed on country roads without lights to evade pursuing patrol cars.