Garda hit by van chase pair may never get back on bike
A garda who was knocked down during a high-speed chase on Good Friday may never be able to get back on his bike, a court was told.
Garda Michael Twomey was taken to hospital in neck and back brace, suffering broken ribs and cuts, after he was rammed as he tried to direct traffic away from a "manic, mindless" chase.
And Gda Twomey, a father of two, was praised by a judge who sentenced two men for their involvement in the chase.
John Paul O'Driscoll (27) with an address at the Simon Community, Cork, was banned from driving for life and given a total of 12 years in prison for various charges relating to the incident on April 18.
Damian Fitzgerald (26) of Inniscarra Rd, Fairhill, Cork, was given a total of three years for his part in a hotel burglary and four years for allowing to be carried in a stolen vehicle.
The pair pleaded guilty in Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday to a number of charges.
Sgt Pat Lyons told the court the accused were driving a van that had been stolen from MacCurtain Street in Cork city the evening before.
Judge Sean O Donnabhain heard that the van was then spotted in the grounds of the Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire at 6am on the morning of Good Friday, April 18.
Two men were spotted putting a bin into the van and leaving the hotel grounds.
The night porter then discovered that a quantity of alcohol had been stolen from the hotel's function room and called gardai.
The van was next spotted in Passage West, on the outskirts of Cork's south side, by an off-duty garda at 8.30am.
The chase began when the van ignored a signal to stop, swerved around the patrol car and continued the wrong way around a roundabout.
Sgt Lyons told the court that one car was written off and others were damaged as the van went across the city, through the busy bus station yard and across a one-way bridge against the flow of traffic.
As the pair headed north of Cork city, Garda Twomey, who was not involved in the pursuit, stopped traffic at a busy junction on the N20 Cork-Limerick road at Rathduff to make space for the oncoming chase.
The van joined the national route from a minor road, swung to the left back towards the city and hit Gda Twomey who was thrown a considerable distance.
The van did not stop and drove at speed on the wrong side of the main Cork-Limerick dual carriageway towards Cork city. It then went against traffic, on to a sliproad towards the countryside. It was later found brought to a stop, with both men leaving the vehicle.
An open bottle of Jack Daniels was found in the front seat.
After his arrest O'Driscoll, who was driving the van, was found to be nearly five times over the legal limit.
Sgt Lyons said that the incident has shaken Garda Twomey "quite visibly" and that only time will tell if the avid motorcyclist will ever ride a motorbike on duty again.
He said that the impact was also felt by his partner, another garda who was on duty in the city on the morning of the chase and was aware of Gda Twomey's injuries via garda communication. "This has had a very traumatic affect on him," Sgt Lyons said.
Both men were on bail at the time of the chase.
On sentencing O'Driscoll, the judge asked if he would agree to keep the peace in exchange for a suspension of the final two years of the sentence.
O'Driscoll told Judge O Donnabhain to "f**k off".