Thursday 23 November 2017

Teen had to drive dangerously to escape gang of attackers

Tom Tuite

A YOUTH, who nearly collided with a garda car when he was fleeing from a gang of attackers he thought were going to kill him, has been acquitted of dangerous driving.















The 17-year-old boy had pleaded not guilty and at the Dublin Children's Court today he used a "defence of necessity" in relation to his dangerous driving in Tallaght, Dublin, on a date in April.



Garda David Morris told Judge Ann Ryan that while on patrol, he had been driving a squad car at the Fettercairn ring-road. He saw a row taking place between a group of youths at a nearby housing estate before a car sped away.



Gda Morris said the youth drove out of a cul-de-sac “on the wrong side of the road at speed”. “I had to swerve out of the way to avoid collision,” Gda Morris said adding that he had been placed in fear by the boy's driving.



The teenager continued driving in the middle of a road at high speed and after about 30 seconds he came to a stop at a traffic lights.



In evidence, the boy told the court that he had been trying to get away from a group of attackers who had jumped out of another car. He claimed they began smashing his car's windows with hammers.



“Loads of them attacked me,” he said adding, “I thought these people were going to kill me.”



He said he was still frightened when a garda squad car pursued him. He also claimed that a hammer that had been used to smash up his car had been lying on his passenger seat, but that was not seen by the arresting garda.



Asked why he did not tell gardai who had attacked him, he replied: “I would be killed, I would be shot.”



When the boy stopped driving, Garda Morris witnessed that the passenger window in his car had been smashed in, the court also heard.



Defence solicitor Gareth Noble said the boy admits he drove in the manner described by garda witnesses. But he said the teen was raising a defence of “necessity” which was comparable to the concept of “the lesser of two evils”.



He argued that the boy had acted in this way to escape from his attackers; there was a “real and pressing danger to the accused” and there was “an inescapable necessity to commit the offence”.



Judge Ryan accepted the defence case and acquitted the teenager but added that her decision did not diminish any fear the two officers in the patrol car had been placed in as a result of the boy's driving. In court, the boy apologised to them.



The teenager, who has no previous criminal convictions, admitted that he was caught in a car tampering with its ignition, on a date in March. He was remanded on bail pending sentence for that offence until a date in September for a pre-sentence probation report to be obtained.

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