Sunday 21 October 2018

Man (51) jailed after garda was injured in hit-and-run

Timothy Laffey appeared for sentencing at Mullingar Circuit Court sitting in Tullamore
Timothy Laffey appeared for sentencing at Mullingar Circuit Court sitting in Tullamore

Sarah-Jane Murphy

A Mayo man who was a member of a group calling itself the Anti-Corruption Taskforce has been jailed for a hit-and-run of a garda sergeant.

Joseph Doocey (51) was convicted after a trial last October of endangerment, dangerous driving and assault of Sergeant Declan Casey causing him harm. He denied these and other charges, all of which related to an incident near Font Cross, Ballina, Co Mayo on June 8, 2015.

The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that on that date Doocey did not stop at a garda checkpoint. He instead shunted his car forward, hitting Sgt Casey on the legs and then drove the car up on the footpath, forcing a garda to jump out of the way.

He drove off at speed but got caught in traffic. Sgt Casey caught up with him on foot and asked him to get out of the car. Doocey refused to stop and instead reversed, knocking Casey to the ground and driving over his foot, before ramming into a van several times.

He then turned car at speed and exposed Sgt Casey to serious injury as he was still on the roadway, the court heard.

Judge Melanie Greally said she was satisfied that Doocey's primary motivation was to flee and he didn't set out to injure Sgt Casey. But she said his conduct was reckless in the extreme and exposed Sgt Casey to more serious injury if not death.

In a victim impact statement Sgt Casey said he had been “branded a liar” and that his “character and good name were attacked” in a social media campaign that had caused great distress, anxiety and stress to himself and his family.

He said his wife had been “very distressed” by “twisted, distorted and nasty” comments which had included suggestions to protest outside his children's school.

“My character and my family were plastered all over social media,” he said, through “disgraceful and disgusting lies told about me by Joe Doocey”.

Sgt Casey said while his knee had healed from the injuries he sustained in the hit-and-run, he experienced daily flashbacks of the “shock, fear, pain” he felt and “the sensation of a car running over you and having to scramble out of the way”.

He said his knee ligament was torn causing “excruciating pain” and requiring surgery which left him unable to work for nine months.

Doocey, with an address at Knoxbarret, Ballina, Co Mayo, is a former member of two groups called Anti-Corruption Taskforce and Integrity Ireland. He told the court that gardaí had begun a “campaign of harassment/intimidation” against him going back 16 or 17 years.

“The more I try to address it, the more intense the campaign by the gardaí becomes,” he said, claiming that he had been “beaten up” by gardaí on occasion and “brought to court and framed”.

Doocey shouted in court that he was “an innocent man” and evidence was “planted”.

His previous convictions included one for harassment via a hoax phone call and text messages in 2001, which Doocey said is currently under appeal.

Doocey pleaded not guilty to charges of endangerment, assault causing harm, dangerous driving, failure to report the injury of Sgt Casey, criminal damage, failing to stop, failing to give information, leaving the scene and driving without valid motor tax. Last October a jury unanimously found him guilty on all counts against him following a nine-day trial.

Sentencing Doocey today Judge Greally said the most serious offences in this case were those of criminal damage, assault causing harm to Sgt Casey and endangerment.

She imposed a three and a half year prison sentence. She initially suspended the final year on condition that Doocey enter a bond not to post online about the investigating gardaí, the judiciary and the lawyers involved in his case, and their families.

When Doocey refused to sign this bond, Judge Greally imposed the full term of the sentence. She also banned Doocey from driving for a period of five years.

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