Monday 19 August 2019

'I was in a bad place at the time' - driver who deliberately reversed into garda car during high-speed chase is jailed

Stock Image
Stock Image

Sonya McLean

A man who deliberately reversed his car into a garda patrol car to avoid arrest has been jailed.

John Langfield (35) drove at 200 km/h on the M7 motorway on a wet March night, weaving in and out between lanes.

The high-speed chase, which began in a housing estate in Kill, Co Kildare, ultimately came to an end when he performed a handbrake turn on the Nangor Road, in Clondalkin, Dublin, struck the same patrol car a second time and mounted a traffic island.

Langfield was arrested at the scene and apologised to gardaí in a subsequent interview for his behaviour.

Langfield of O'Hogan Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of dangerous driving at Rochford Avenue, Kill, and the Nangor Road, Clondalkin, criminal damage of a patrol car and having no insurance on March 7, 2017.

Garda Darren Coller agreed with Marc Thompson BL, defending, that the garda operation that night had been focused on the other man in the car and not Langfield.

The father-of-three has 23 previous convictions, including a five-year suspended sentence for possession of drugs received in September 2009.

Judge Karen O'Connor said she accepted that Langfield was sincere in his remorse and suspended the final 18 months of a three-year prison sentence.

Gda Coller told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that he and a colleague spotted two men in a Vauxhall Astra on Rochford Avenue and had turned their patrol car around to follow the vehicle and direct the driver to pull over.

This car and another patrol car boxed in the Astra.

Gda Coller said he was getting out of his car to approach the driver when he saw the reverse lights come on. Langfield reversed the Astra deliberately into the patrol car before the vehicle mounted a grass verge and took off at speed.

Langfield then failed to yield at a mini-roundabout and drove in excess of the 50km/h speed limit, before driving onto the M7 where he reached speeds of 200 km/h.

Gda Coller said Langfield then took an exit off the motorway and was on the Nangor Road when he pulled up his handbrake and attempted to turn the car around. He struck Gda Coller's patrol car a second time and mounted a traffic island.

Gda Coller said €1,400 worth of damage was caused to the patrol car and it was out of service for five days.

Gda Coller accepted a suggestion from Mr Thompson that Langfield apologised continuously for his behaviour and told gardaí he would be pleading guilty.

Gda Coller further accepted that Langfield would have been under the influence of his passenger on the night.

Langfield took the stand to apologise again. He said he had €650 in court and he would get a further €750 to compensate for the damage he caused to the patrol car.

“I was in a bad place at the time,” he said.

Judge O'Connor, having noted Langfield's previous convictions, said he “was not new to the system”. “He has been given a fair few chances in the past,” she added.

Mr Thompson said his client had one conviction since his arrest for a public order matter but had otherwise not come to garda attention.

He accepted that Langfield had a bad history but asked the court to take into account the manner in which he had dealt with the offence.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News