Saturday 24 August 2019

Suspended sentence for teen car thief who crashed into priest

The Children's Court, Smithfield
The Children's Court, Smithfield

Tom Tuite

A teenage joyrider, who ploughed into a priest and inflicted serious injuries, has been given a 12-month suspended sentence and a seven-year road ban.

Fr Liam McClarey was hospitalised and unable perform parish duties after the teen car thief, who had been on bail, crashed into him, the Dublin Children’s Court was told.

The 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty earlier this year to theft of a '03-reg car and dangerous driving in connection with the incident at Blanchardstown Road North on Nov. 8 last year and leading gardai on a high speed chase in another stolen car on the M50 in March 2016.

Garda Brian Masterson said a woman's Honda car was stolen in Harstown in Dublin 15.

Just after 11.30pm, on Nov. 8 last year, gardai on patrol saw the stolen car driven at speed by the accused on the N3 in Dublin. The teenager broke red lights and collided with a Volkswagen Golf driven by Fr McClarey, 57, of Corduff Parochial House.

Garda Masterson said the youth “ran from the car but was arrested close by” while Fr McClarey was taken to hospital. The court heard he suffered broken ankles and a hairline fracture to his knee. He spent six weeks in hospital and is still not fully recovered.

Earlier this year, Fr McClarey provided the court with a victim impact statement which the judge read in court. In the statement the priest explained that had been unable to officiate at weddings and funerals or visit the sick at Christmas last year or prepare school children for confirmation. Months later, he said, he still could not carry out his duties and was unable to play golf or visit his family who lived 150 miles away.

The teenager, who is now in employment, had been included in a scheme in which he had been given increased bail support to provide him with help over the past eight months. He had complied with the programme and attended appointments with the Probation Service.

The case resumed today when a probation report on him was furnished to the court. The teen who was accompanied to court by his mother and his solicitor, admitted a new charge for driving without a licence which occurred earlier this month, however, there were no other offences this year.

Judge John O’Connor imposed a 12-month sentence which was suspended on condition the youth does not re-offend in the next year. He was also banned from driving for seven years.

Earlier, Judge O’Connor said the priest’s impact statement was very moving and a community had been devastated. Other people suffered as a result of the boy’s behaviour and it was lucky they were not killed, he said.

The court heard the teenager had family members involved in crime but he had no criminal convictions until he started getting caught committing offences last year.

While on supervision ahead of sentencing the boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, got an educational course and tests showed he stayed off drugs.

The teen also admitted stealing a car in the early hours of March 17 last year and six counts of dangerous driving as well as not having a licence or motor insurance.

Garda Canice Phelan has told the court gardai spotted two cars travelling on the wrong side of the road at the Littlepace roundabout in Clonee.

Gardai took up pursuit at which the two cars split up. The court heard the boy was driving a '02-reg Honda Xtreme and drove at speed through another roundabout on the wrong side. He sped through a red light forcing a taxi to take “evasive action”.

The teenager reached the N2 and crossed several lanes “without regard for other road users” said Gda Phelan, adding that the teenager did that several times.

The boy nearly lost control of the Honda while he drove along a M50 slip road and when he crossed the motorway drivers had to take evasive action.

The court heard that as he reached the M50 toll bridge he was “boxed in” and stopped. The teenager initially resisted arrest but then became compliant and was handcuffed before he was taken to Blanchardstown Garda station.

Gda Phelan said that the owner of the hot-wired car was not aware it had been stolen. That set of proceeding was also finalised today.

Previously he was also convicted over a hit-and-run and driving without insurance or a licence charges after he caused a collision in February last year. The court heard he drove a scrambler on a public road in Corduff and while over-taking a Volkswagen car he collided head on with a Toyota Avensis.

The car he hit was driven by a mother who had her husband and their two young children, aged four and 11, on board. Garda Brian Masterson said no one was injured but the two car owners only had third party insurance policies and were not covered for their badly damaged cars.

The children had been traumatised, the court was also told.

He had also been found guilty, in another prosecution, of a car theft in July last year.

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