Thursday 14 December 2017

Garda killed by car saved colleague's life

Anita Guidera

A GARDA attempting to prevent a car theft shouted at a female colleague to run just seconds before he was mown down by a speeding car.

Tragic Garda Robbie McCallion (29) had his back turned when the fleeing car struck him. He bounced off its windscreen and was thrown 12ft to 15ft into the air before landing in the front garden of a nearby house.

"His body appeared limp and lifeless. It disappeared into the darkness," eyewitness Garda Shane Lavelle told Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday.

Garda Joanne Doherty found her injured colleague lying on his side against a broken wooden fence, part of which was sitting on his neck. She removed it to help his breathing.

Their harrowing evidence was heard on the opening day of the trial of Jamie McGrenaghan, of Gortnacraw, Kerrykeel, Fanad, Co Donegal, who denies the manslaughter of Gda McCallion on April 7, 2009.

Mr McGrenaghan has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of endangering the lives of Gda Doherty and Gda Lavelle by driving at them in a manner that put their lives at risk on March 26, 2009.

He has pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Gda McCallion on March 26, 2009, and to stealing a car on the same date.

Stolen

Swinford-born Gda McCallion died at Beaumont Hospital less than two weeks after he was knocked down while investigating reports of a stolen car in Tara Court, Letterkenny.

Gda Doherty said she, Gda McCallion and Gda Lavelle responded to a report at 4.30am to attend a scene at Tara Court, less than 2km from Letterkenny town centre. She was a front seat passenger in the car being driven by Gda McCallion when they entered the quiet cul-de-sac.

They approached a youth standing in front of a white Toyota Corolla with a rope attached to the front of it. Behind it was a wine-coloured Peugeot with its lights on and engine running.

All three gardai left the patrol car to investigate further when the Peugeot car began revving at high speed and reversing away, further into the estate.

The gardai got back into the patrol car to block the Peugeot from leaving the scene. It came to a halt again and began revving loudly and coming towards the patrol car at speed.

"I looked up and I could see the car with lights on coming straight for where we were. Gda McCallion told me to run. I jumped out of the patrol car and went to the back of it," Gda Doherty told the trial.

She said the car was travelling "extremely fast" but it veered off to the left at the last minute and she heard a very loud bang. When she looked up the Peugeot was airborne.

The trial continues before Judge John O'Hagan.

Irish Independent

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