Friday 23 February 2018

Man didn't realise toddler (2) was in back of car when he led gardai on high speed chase, court told

Man didn't realise toddler (2) was in back of car when he led gardai on high speed chase, court told
Man didn't realise toddler (2) was in back of car when he led gardai on high speed chase, court told

Sonya McLean

An expectant father who didn’t realise there was a two-year-old boy in the back of the car he was driving during a high speed garda chase has been jailed for three and half years.

Daryl Bolger (23) had taken 20 tranquilizer tablets when he drove off in the uninsured car while gardai were questioning the driver outside the car.

He was a passenger in the vehicle when gardaí stopped it just before 10am last January. He moved into driver’s seat and sped off. The court heard the toddler was not properly restrained in the back seat.

The resulting 20 minute high speed pursuit, which took place in suburban areas around Tallaght, led to school children running off the road and motorists swerving out of the way to avoid being struck by Bolger’s car.

Bolger of Kilcarrig Green, in Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to endangerment, five charges of dangerous driving and driving without insurance at Deerpark Avenue, Kiltipper Road, the Tallaght Bypass, the Tallaght Ring Road, Citywest Road and Whitestown Way on January 6, 2015. Other charges of dangerous driving were taken into account.

His 91 previous convictions include mostly road traffic offences and a jail term for hi-jacking a car. He also had convictions for stealing cars, burglary and dangerous driving.

Garda Simon Whelan confirmed that Bolger was unlawfully at large from Mountjoy Prison at the time having been allowed out on temporary release to attend for residential drug treatment. He left the centre that day and didn’t return to the prison.

Gda Whelan told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that at one point Bolger drove down a cul-de-sac, performed a handbrake turn and accelerated straight back towards his patrol car. He said he had to swerve out of the way to prevent a head-on collision and confirmed that the toddler was still in the back seat at that time.

On Firhouse Road West, Bolger drove at excessive speeds, broke red lights and caused his vehicle to lift off the road as it bounced over speed bumps.

Gda Whelan said Bolger drove at such high speeds on the Cheeverstown Road, that if there had been a collision it would have been a fatal accident.

The garda helicopter was called in and took over the monitoring of the pursuit. Those gardaí were then able to inform the other officers that Bolger had pulled up outside his own home.

He was arrested there when he was caught hiding under a bed. The two-year-old was still sitting in the car.

Bolger said in interview that he drove off because he didn’t want gardaí taking the vehicle because it wasn’t taxed or insured.

Gda Whelan agreed with Sarah-Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending, that he had been made aware that Bolger claimed there was a threat to his life and he left the treatment centre when he spotted someone from a particular gang there.

Gda Whelan said he wasn’t able to confirm that this was the case but accepted that Bolger claimed he was in “a heightened state of anxiety” because of it.

Ms O’Callaghan said her client had also taken 20 tranquilizers that day and had very little recollection of the pursuit. He said he didn’t know the boy was in the car.

Counsel said her client’s current partner is pregnant with his first child and he is “excited about the prospects of becoming a new father”.

Bolger told the court that he wanted to apologise to everyone involved and said he couldn’t remember that day.

He said he needed help for his addiction and he is “more used to jail than I am to the outside”. He said he wanted “nothing more than to be a father to my child”.

Judge Martin Nolan said Bolger’s driving was “incredibly dangerous” and he was “incredibly lucky someone wasn’t killed”.

He described Bolger as  “a difficult man to society” who had endangered his life, the infant’s life and that of the gardaí.

He sentenced Bolger to three and half years in jail and disqualified him from driving for five years.

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