Wednesday 24 January 2018

Youth failed to exit stolen taxi which crashed causing death of two of his friends

John McAuley (21) has been given a suspended sentence
John McAuley (21) has been given a suspended sentence

Fiona Ferguson

A youth who was a passenger in a stolen taxi which crashed causing the death of two of his friends has been given a suspended sentence.

John McAuley (21) was taken by surprise and failed to get out of the taxi after it was “hijacked” by one of his friends. The taxi was travelling at about 90 kmph when it crashed into a bridge.

McAuley, of Pearse Street in the south inner city, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to allowing himself to be carried in a stolen car at North Wall Quay on August 5, 2013.

He is currently serving a two year sentence for robbery and attempted robbery imposed earlier this year.

Judge Martin Nolan said McAuley had failed to immediately get out of the taxi when his friend had hijacked it by force. He said his level of culpability in the incident was quite small and imposed an 18 month sentence consecutive to his current term but suspended it in full.

Garda Kevin Craig told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that McAuley and his two friends were on the way to a party and got into a taxi on North Wall Quay. One of his friends sat in behind the taxi driver with McAuley and a second friend also in the back seat.

As the driver pulled off, McAuley's friend put his arm around the man's neck and told him not to try anything or he would be knifed. The driver was able to shrug him off and ran from the car.

McAuley's friend got into the front seat and drove very fast down the quay for a short distance before crashing into a bridge. He died at the scene and the second man died some time later.

McAuley was discharged from hospital the following day and spoke to gardai voluntarily. He could not remember details but had believed that they were going to pay for the taxi they stopped.

Gda Craig agreed with Elva Duffy BL, defending, that McAuley's distress at the loss of his friends was genuine, that he had no history of being in stolen vehicles and that there was no evidence of pre-planning.

Ms Duffy said McAuley had experienced family difficulties growing up and began smoking and drinking in his teenage years. She said he was currently availing of educational opportunities in custody and undertaking a relapse prevention program.

Ms Duffy said her client's instructions were that he simply did not get out of the car and events happened so fast that he did not even remember the car driving.

She said McAuley had asked her to stress his sorrow for the incident and said it was something he would have to live with forever. She said McAuley had lost two friends, one of whom he described as “like a brother”.

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