Wednesday 22 November 2017

Garda thrown 12ft into air when hit by car, trial told

Anita Guidera

A GARDA struck by a car fleeing a crime scene was thrown 12ft into the air and landed in the front garden of a nearby house.

Garda Robbie McCallion (29) bounced off the windscreen and was thrown into the air, a court heard yesterday.

The Swinford, Co Mayo-born garda died at Beaumont Hospital on April 7, 2009, almost two weeks after he was injured while investigating reports of a stolen car in Tara Court, Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

In a final act of courage, he had shouted at a female colleague to run to safety, seconds after he was struck by the car.

At Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday, Jamie McGrenaghan, of Gortnatraw, Kerrykeel, Co Donegal, denied the man-slaughter of the garda.

He has pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of the garda and to stealing a car on the same date.

Two garda colleagues who were on duty with Garda McCallion on the night, outlined how they had responded to a report at 4.30am on the morning of March 26 of suspicious activity involving a car at Tara Court, a housing estate, less than 2km from the town centre.

Garda Joanne Doherty was a front-seat passenger in the car being driven by Garda McCallion.

A third garda, Shane Lavelle was sitting in the back seat.

They observed a youth crouching in front of a white Toyota Corolla that had a rope attached to the front bumper. Behind it was a wine-coloured Peugeot with its lights on and the engine running.

All three gardai exited the patrol car to investigate further when the Peugeot car began revving at high speed and reversing away from the scene, further into the estate.

The gardai got back in the patrol car and positioned it to block the Peugeot from leaving the scene.

They saw the Peugeot stop and rev loudly before it came towards the patrol car at speed.

"The wheels were spinning and you could hear the screeching coming towards us. It was coming straight for the patrol car. It was coming towards my door," said Garda Doherty.

"Garda McCallion told me to run. I jumped out of the patrol car and went to the back of it," she told the trial.

She said that the car was travelling "very, very fast" but it veered off to the left at the last second and she heard a loud bang before it became airborne.

Garda Lavelle gave chase to the driver of the car as he attempted to flee the scene on foot. When he returned into view, she shouted, "where is Robbie".

He told her he was behind a wall that had been knocked down by the airborne car.

"I saw Garda McCallion lying on his right side up against a wooden fence. He was unconscious and his breathing was very laboured. There was blood coming from his mouth. He was moving his head.

"I kept his head in a position so he wouldn't choke. I took my fleece and put it under his head," she said.

Garda Lavelle told the court how he saw Garda McCallion being struck and "bouncing 12 feet through the air".

"He went limp and disappeared from view," he said.

Mr McGrenaghan and a second youth, Cathal Dunleavy (21), were arrested by gardai at the scene. The trial continues before Judge John O'Hagan.

Irish Independent

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