Thursday 22 March 2018

Man led gardai on high-speed chase that ended with patrol car crashing on M50

Chase took place during torrential rain


Sonya McLean and Aoife Nic Ardghail

A man has been jailed for three years after he led gardaí on a high-speed chase during torrential rain which led to the garda car aquaplaning and crashing on the M50 motorway.

Stephen Bailey (30) of The Village Square, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cocaine and heroin, intentionally or recklessly ramming a garda, endangerment of Garda Gary Dunne and two charges of dangerous driving on April 11, 2016.

He has 22 previous convictions for possession of drugs and stolen property, trespass, public order and road traffic offences.

In passing a sentence of four and a half years, Judge Melanie Greally suspended the final 18 months of the jail term. She noted that the gardaí were lucky to escape with their lives and banned Bailey from driving for ten years.

Earlier, Garda Ivor Scully told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting that a surveillance operation was in place on Old Glenamuck Road, Carrickmines, when gardaí spotted a red Audi A3 that they were interested in.

Garda intelligence had suggested that a stash of drugs was to be picked up when they saw Bailey stop that car and his passenger get out. The officers, who had been concealed behind bushes jumped over railings and Gda Scully stood behind the car while his colleague Garda Gary Dunne stood in front.

Bailey accelerated the vehicle towards Gda Dunne who had to jump out of the way to avoid being hurt.

An unmarked patrol car that had been waiting nearby then drove up and the driver positioned the vehicle across the street to block Bailey's path.

Bailey drove straight into this patrol car, crashed into it and mounted a footpath before driving towards a roundabout. Both gardaí were hurt but they continued to pursue Bailey as he drove dangerous ultimately joining the M50 at junction 15.

Gda Scully said during this pursuit a number of motorists had to take evasive action as Bailey joined traffic without slowing down or stopping.

There was torrential rain that day and the gardaí couldn't keep up with Bailey when they were driving on the motorway at 120 km/hr. The patrol car aquaplaned and the driver lost control crashing the vehicle.

Gda Scully said both Sgt Divian Rock and Gda Tara Byrne had to be cut out of the vehicle. They managed to radio asking other units to lookout out for the Audi. Bailey was eventually arrested when the Audi was spotted at Hanlon's Corner on the North Circular Road.

Both Sgt Rock and Gda Byrne had prepared victim impact reports in which they stated that they each continue to suffer from the injuries they sustained that day.

Sgt Rock said his life has been severely impacted. He is in daily pain and he is returned to night duties at work. He doesn't know if he will ever return to his normal duties. He said his ongoing medical costs and loss of wages amounted to €9,500.

“I did not leave my house that morning to expect my wife to have deal with this,” he stated after adding that he feels responsible for his colleague's suffering.

Gda Byrne injured her neck, shoulder, lower back, knees and head. She is still undergoing treatment, has difficulty bending and taking the stairs and is still still unfit for normal duty.

She estimated her medical costs and loss of wages have amounted to €9,775. She said she finds it difficult watching people doing things for her she was previously able to do herself but she counts herself lucky “that I am not worse off”.

Gda Byrne said Bailey had consciously made the decision to ram the garda car. She said his behaviour had shown a blatant disregard for herself, her colleagues and other road users.

Gda Scully confirmed that Gda Byrne returned to light duties at work last week but is still in a lot of pain.

Gda Scully agreed with Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing BL, defending that the medical reports suggested that it was the accident on the M50 that caused the majority of the serious injuries for both Sgt Rock and Gda Byrne.

Counsel said Bailey's actions on the day “were shocking and appalling” and apologised to the various gardaí involved that day.

Mr Ó Dúnlaing asked for the case to be adjourned to allow Bailey to continue with a drug treatment course he has started at Coolmine.

Judge Greally said the offence was at the mid to upper range on the scale and this was aggravated by the fact Bailey had been on bail at the time.

She noted that Bailey had taken “impressive steps” to address his drug additions and gave him credit for his guilty pleas.

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