Sunday 18 February 2018

Disqualified driver with 98 previous convictions ploughed hijacked car into vehicle carrying mother and young son

Courts (Stock photo)
Courts (Stock photo)

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A disqualified driver who caused a young mother's legs to be crushed when his hijacked car ploughed into her vehicle has been jailed for five years.

Fire services took over an hour to cut Laura Mahony out of her car after Gareth Kenna (35) lost control of the hijacked Honda Jazz and crashed sideways into the vehicle.

Detective Garda Colm Donohoe said the car's engine was pushed back onto Ms Mahony's legs on impact, trapping her inside with her young son in the back.

Kenna, of Whitechapel Avenue, Clonsilla, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Ms Mahony at Hearse Road, Donabate on October 10, 2014.

He further pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted hijacking and one count of hijacking a vehicle at Donabate Golf Club, New Road, Donabate on the same date.

Kenna has 98 previous convictions, including 14 for dangerous driving, and had been disqualified from driving for 20 years at the time of the incident.

Judge Martin Nolan noted that the incident must have been terrifying for Ms Mahony as she had to worry for her child while suffering “excruciating” pain.

He took into account Kenna's remorse and early guilty plea, but said the fact he seized a car and drove it dangerously while disqualified were “severe aggravating factors”.

Det Gda Donohoe said Kenna made unsuccessful attempts at hijacking vehicles from two owners in the golf club car park, but managed to get the Honda Jazz off a woman at a nearby roundabout.

The detective told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that Kenna had approached each car owner aggressively with a screwdriver.

One man drove away as Kenna tried to enter his Volkswagen Golf and another motorist was able to get a greenkeeper to help chase him off.

The Honda Jazz owner initially thought Kenna might have been a garda and slowed her vehicle approaching the roundabout.

The woman later told gardai she smelled alcohol on Kenna's breath as he forced her out of her car.

Kenna drove dangerously by travelling on the wrong side of the road and breaking a stop sign, before he eventually crashed into Ms Mahony's car about 3km away from the golf club.

Ms Mahony subsequently recalled the Honda Jazz coming at her car sideways.

She said she felt pain on impact and looked around to see her son's face covered in blood in the back, as he screamed and cried.

Det Gda Donohoe said Ms Mahony spent eight days in hospital following the crash and had had to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries on her knee and legs.

She also suffered two cracked ribs and spent a number of weeks in a wheelchair.

The detective told Ms Grant that Kenna said he couldn't recall the incident when he was eventually interviewed.

He agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that he was not disputing her client's lack of memory as he had been in a coma following the crash.

He further accepted Kenna had suffered a perforated liver, a collapsed lung and a severe leg injury.

The detective agreed with Ms Biggs that her client had no previous convictions for violent crimes and that he had been co-operative with gardai.

He told Judge Nolan that Kenna had never explained the motivation behind the hijacking.

Ms Biggs submitted to Judge Nolan that her client had had a difficult upbringing, that he was remorseful and was doing well rehabilitating himself in prison.

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