Sunday 19 January 2020

Passenger in car that killed garda is jailed

Anita Guidera

THE events leading to the death of a garda after he was struck by a vehicle while investigating a suspected car theft emerged in court yesterday.

Garda Robbie McCallion (29) was propelled over a wall and in to the front garden of a house at Tara Court, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, shortly after 4.30am on March 26 2009. He died of devastating head injuries less than two weeks later in Beaumont Hospital.

Yesterday, at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday, Cathal Dunleavy (21), of Meentagh, Glenvar, Kerrykeel, who had pleaded guilty to unlawfully taking a car at Tara Court, Letterkenny that night, was jailed for three years.

A second youth, Jamie McGrenaghan (19), of Gortnacraw, Cashel, Kerrykeel, denies the unlawful killing of Garda McCallion but admits dangerous driving causing death. He is due to go on trial later this year.

Sergeant Martin Finnan told the court how a woman alerted gardai after seeing two youths acting suspiciously at a neighbour's car at around 4.30 am.

Gda McCallion, accompanied by Garda Joanne Doherty and Garda Shane Lavelle, drove to the scene in a patrol car.

As they rounded the corner they observed Dunleavy standing in front of a white Toyota Corolla that had a tow-rope attached to the front.

Gda McCallion stopped the patrol car and confronted the youth, asking him his name.

As all three gardai exited the car, a red Peugeot parked behind the Corolla began to reverse and stopped a short distance away.

The three gardai got back into the car to pursue the escaping car but on realising there was only one way of leaving the estate, Garda McCallion angled the patrol car to block the exit.

The Peugeot was then driven in the direction of the patrol car and the gardai, fearing for their safety, exited the car.

"During these moments Gda McCallion was struck and ended up going over a garden wall and ended in a garden," said Sgt Finnan.

Sentencing, Judge John O'Hagan said: "This was a cool calculated stealing of a car."

Irish Independent

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