Tuesday 24 April 2018

Man (33) who led gardai on high speed chase at time of 'heightened state of paranoia' is jailed

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Jessica Magee

A Dublin man has been sentenced to four years in jail for leading gardaí on a high-speed chase, reversing into a garda sergeant and holding a large quantity of drugs.

Andrew Dunne (33) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing almost €110,000 worth of heroin, cocaine and cannabis at his home on Kilworth Rd, Drimnagh on July 7, 2016.

Dunne further admitted to two counts of endangering gardaí on August 7, 2016 at a time when his defence counsel said he was suffering from “intense levels of fear and paranoia”.

Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan described Dunne as a good family man and a good father who was unlikely to re-offend.

The judge said he had received a large amount of letters in Dunne's favour and that “a lot of people have good things to say about him”, but that nonetheless he had put a lot of people at grave risk.

“His driving was reckless and grossly irresponsible. He drove at the guards; he put a lot of people in danger,” added Judge Nolan, who also disqualified Dunne from driving for six years.

Garda Stephen Connor told Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that Dunne was intoxicated on drugs when a search was carried out at the home he shares with his wife and children in July 2016.

Dunne directed gardaí to a quantity of heroin worth €93,520 in the master bedroom of the house and cocaine valued at €6,720 elsewhere. A further €9,160 of cannabis was discovered in the kitchen, bringing the total value of drugs to €109,400.

Gda Connor agreed with Giollaiosa O Lidheadha SC, defending, that Dunne was under serious threat at the time due to a drug debt and that he was holding the drugs rather than selling them.

“He was at the bottom rung of the ladder; a pawn,” said Mr O Lidheada, adding that Dunne was in a “heightened state of paranoia and fear” at the time.

Sergeant Niall Bright told the court that about a month after the drugs offence, Dunne was driving his silver Volvo when he was stopped by gardaí in Tallaght.

When gardaí got out of their patrol car and began to walk towards his car, Dunne accelerated and drove off, beginning a high-speed chase that would lead several garda cars to Rathcoole, back over the N7 bridge and back into the southside of the city, ending up in a residential area of Drimnagh.

The court heard that Dunne broke several red lights, in particular one at the Kylemore Road at a speed of 120kmph in a 60kmph speed limit.

At other times, Dunne was drove at speeds of 210kmph in 60kmph zones, crossed continuous white lines, narrowly missed collisions with motorists and forced other cars to pull up so he could get past.

At one point, Sgt John Collins deployed a stinger device and Dunne stopped his car. However, when the sergeant went to open Dunne's door, Dunne reversed at speed momentarily dragging the sergeant and causing him to tumble to the ground.

Dunne then reverse-rammed a BMW garda car, rammed a second garda car, mounted a footpath and drove at speed towards another garda car which avoided collision by driving on the wrong side of the road.

Dunne escaped onto Dolphin Rd and continued to drive at excessive speeds in residential areas. He later put in a call to gardaí reporting that his car had been stolen, but subsequently admitted that he had been driving the car.

The court heard Sgt Collins suffered minor abrasions to his hands and knees.

Dunne has two previous minor convictions for road traffic matters.

Mr O Lidheadha said Dunne was an “exemplary father” who had very good relationships with his children, particularly with his daughter who has autism.

The court heard that Dunne had a strong work history and had since rehabilitated himself and was drug-free.

Dunne's father wrote a letter to court asking for “merciful justice” and saying “I feel my prodigal son has returned,” after his period of offending.

Judge Nolan said it was not necessary to include a suspended period into Dunne's sentence, describing him as a “mature man who had got himself into difficulties” but was unlikely to re-offend.

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