Thursday 18 January 2018

Mum tells court she feared for her unborn child as she ran on icy street to get away from car thieves

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

Nicola Donnelly

A mother told a court she feared for the life of her unborn child when she had to run away from a car thief who threatened her with a steering wheel lock.

Susan O'Leary, who was heavily pregnant at the time, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court how she and her husband Roddie had to run on an icy road to get away from the car thieves. She also said she now suffers from depression and anxiety and never leaves the house.

David Richards (26) of Basin Lane, St James’s Gate, pleaded guilty before the court to the unauthorised taking of a car on Meath Street in Dublin on January 1, 2010.

He also admitted drink driving, dangerous driving and driving without insurance and a licence during the same incident.

Judge Patrick McCartan remarked that Richards had committed an “appalling set of crimes.” He imposed an 18 month suspended sentence and banned Richards from driving for ten years. He also ordered that €5,000 gathered by Richards in compensation be handed over to the victims.

Garda Cailin Doherty told Derek Cooney, prosecuting, that at 1.35am on New Year's Day in 2010, Ms O’Leary’s BMW was taken from her by force by Richards and another man.

Richards' accomplice told her and her husband that he would shoot them if they did not hand over the keys and get out of the car. They said they did not see a gun but the man held his hand in his shirt in the shape of a pistol.

Richards took the car wheel lock and threatened the couple while Mr O'Leary kept telling the men that his wife was heavily pregnant.

“The couple ran from the car because they were frightened,” said Gda Doherty.

Gda Doherty said Richards, who was drunk, took over driving the car from his accomplice after it had collided with a pole.

“Richards then accelerated the car in an attempt to get away from gardaí and as the roads were very icy, the car swung across the road and hit a kerb,” said Gda Doherty.

Richards, who has three previous convictions, was arrested a short time later.

Defence counsel Marc Thompson BL, said Richards, a father-of-one, hid from gardai for four years as he was afraid to go to jail.

Ms O’Leary told the court that the ordeal has affected her badly. “I initially feared I was going to lose my unborn child when we had to run on ice. I now suffer from fear and anxiety and do not want to leave my house. I am a changed person.”

She said she was enraged by the fact that the case “dragged on for four years” because Richards could not be found.

“What does an early guilty plea mean if he hasn’t been before the court in four years?” she asked.

“This is an appalling set of crimes and the fact that he absconded and his attitude beggars belief,” Judge McCartan said.

“He knew Mrs O’Leary was pregnant. Drink or no drink on him, he put them through a horrible experience,” he said.

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