Thursday 5 December 2019

Gardaí used 'stinger' as 'intoxicated' driver reached up to 260kmh

Record: Luke Quilligan (25) was jailed in 2015 after a garda was injured in a stand-off
Record: Luke Quilligan (25) was jailed in 2015 after a garda was injured in a stand-off

Ralph Riegel

Gardaí had to deploy a 'stinger' anti-car device to stop an out-of-control young man who was driving away from armed officers and reached speeds of 260kmh on a busy dual carriageway.

Luke Quilligan (25) was jailed for three years after Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard he was so aggressive and intoxicated that gardaí who attempted to seize his car had to withdraw for their own safety and await the back-up of the armed Regional Support Unit (RSU).

Quilligan approached uniformed officers at his Ford Focus car in an estate in Midleton, Co Cork, armed with a stick and an iron bar.

Det Sgt Sean Leahy told Judge Sean O'Donnabháin that Quilligan had warned them: "I did four years before (in prison) and I will do 10 years more."

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Quilligan, of the halting site, Little Island, Co Cork, was jailed for four years in 2015 after throwing a rock during a stand-off with gardaí. It struck an officer in the face and resulted in him losing 75pc of his vision in one eye.

He had pleaded guilty to a number of charges arising from incidents on October 31 and November 1, 2018.

Det Sgt Leahy said uniformed officers went to the Beechwood Estate in Midleton following a report from a member of the public.

A parked Ford Focus car was examined and was in the process of being seized.

However, the defendant then emerged from a local house armed with a stick and an iron bar. "He [Quilligan] was extremely intoxicated and very aggressive," Det Sgt Leahy said.

Threatened

The defendant threatened anyone who attempted to seize his car. Officers were so fearful for their own safety that they withdrew pending the arrival of back-up.

Quilligan then left the estate in the car - with gardaí following at a safe distance.

The defendant drove onto the dual carriageway of the main N25 Cork-Waterford motorway and was then assessed by gardaí as driving at speeds up to 260kmh. A commercial jet has an average take-off speed of 240kmh.

Gardaí witnessed multiple instances of dangerous driving before a special stinger device was deployed to successfully stop the car.

As he left the vehicle, Quilligan swung a leather belt and the attached buckle caught a garda in the face, cutting his forehead.

Quilligan was arrested on suspicion of drink driving but refused to provide a sample at the Garda station.

Judge O'Donnabháin was told Quilligan, who has 55 previous convictions, was now trying to address serious addiction problems.

"I accept that this man had issues in his life but nothing excuses this. His driving was phenomenally dangerous - he is very lucky he is not here on something much more serious," the judge said.

Irish Independent

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