Wednesday 13 December 2017

Man fractured garda's hand trying to escape after being caught with sawn-off shotgun

Fiona Ferguson

A man who fractured a garda's hand in his efforts to escape after being caught driving a car containing a sawn-off double barrel shotgun has been jailed for two years.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Edward Walshe (23) had agreed to give a lift to a man to whom he owned a €100 drug debt but later discovered this person had a firearm with him.

He panicked after being signalled to stop by gardai and drove off at high speed causing small children celebrating Halloween to run from the road.

Walshe, of Whitestown Park, Mulhuddart, Dublin later fled from the car after crashing it head on into another vehicle.

He was pursued by Detective Sergeant Declan O'Connell and injured him in his efforts to escape.

Walshe pleaded guilty to possession of a Winchester double barrel shotgun at Blakestown Way and dangerous driving at Whitestown Avenue, both in Mulhuddart, on October 31, 2015.

He further pleaded guilty to assaulting Det Sgt O'Connell at Huntstown Lane, Mulhuddart on the same date.

Judge Melanie Greally sentenced Walshe today to three-and-a-half years in prison with the final 18 months suspended. She took into account Walshe's youth, his remorse, his respectable family background and the fact that he had “learned from his mistakes”.

Walshe had €2500 in court to give to his victim.

At Walshe's sentence hearing last November, Garda Stephen Byrne told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that he saw Walshe that afternoon driving a black Saab and believed he did not have insurance to drive the vehicle.

Gda Byrne also recognised the man in the passenger seat as someone of interest to gardai. He illuminated the lights of the patrol car but Walshe drove off at high speed in a 30 kmph zone.

Gardai followed at a safe distance and saw the vehicle leave the ground as it went over speed ramps. He said as the car drove down Whitestown Avenue at high speed small children out celebrating Halloween had to run from the road.

The car then had a head on collision with another vehicle. Gda Byrne began to pursue Walshe as he fled on foot but noticed the driver of the other vehicle collapse on the ground and stayed with him. This man was later treated in hospital for leg injuries.

Gardai found the shotgun, which had been sawn off at both ends, in the passenger foot well of the car driven by Walshe. They also found four unspent shotgun cartridges, suitable for use in the weapon, in a Lucozade bottle in the passenger door pocket. The firearm was in poor condition.

Walshe was pursued by Det Sgt O'Connell who managed to catch him by his hood. During a struggle Walshe grabbed Det Sgt O'Connell's hand and twisted it. The garda felt pain and heard a snapping noise.

Walshe escaped by scaling a high wall. Det Sgt O'Connell got a good look at his face but was not in a position to follow due to his injury.

Det Sgt O'Connell sustained a fracture to his hand and had a bar inserted for a time to fuse the bone.

Walshe later voluntarily attended at a garda station but exercised his right to silence.

Gda Byrne agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that Walshe had been seeking to leave the area rather than deliberately injure his colleague. He agreed that the offences were out of character for Walshe and that he was not on the garda radar for any gangland type activity.

He agreed with Mr Bowman that his client's family had tragically lost one relative in recent days and another was gravely ill.

Gda Byrne told Judge Greally that Walshe had not come to any further garda attention.

Mr Bowman said Walshe was obliging an individual to whom he owned a tiny drug debt by giving him a lift and did not realise until the man was in the car that he had a firearm with him. Walshe was unaware of the ammunition in the Lucozade bottle.

He said his client acknowledged that once he saw the firearm he knew what was going on.

Mr Bowman said Walshe came from a hard working and law abiding family who were crushed by what had happened.

Online Editors

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