Wednesday 24 October 2018

Man engaged in high-speed chase throughout Cooley at the end of a three-day drugs binge

A man who engaged in a high-speed chase throughout part of Cooley at the end of a three-day drugs binge, has been jailed by the circuit criminal court.

Karl Connolly (23) caused thousands of pounds-worth of damage to a stolen car he was driving at the time, as well as to three garda vehicles.

He also drove straight at one of the officers, forcing him to jump out of the way.

The accused, of 156 Buttercup Park, Darndale, Dublin, has 37 previous convictions.

He told investigators he had no recollection of these events, which occurred on 7 November, 2016.

He pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a car, possession of stolen property, endangerment, dangerous driving, obstruction of a peace officer, and four counts of causing damage to cars, all at various locations in the peninsula.

Detective Garda Paul Flynn, of the Special Detective Unit, said that he and his colleagues responded to reports of a stolen Toyota Corolla being driven in the Cooley area.

At 11pm, Gardaí Daly and McNally spotted it travelling at speed, at Mullabane, Greenore.

Despite lights and sirens being activated, Connolly failed to stop at Whitestown.

He passed Lily Finnegan's pub at high speed, then turned left for Ballagan.

Other garda units were informed of the direction he was travelling in.

The defendant was driving on both sides of the road at Ballagan, forcing other motorists out of his way. He still had no headlights on.

He went on to Ballynamoney, in the direction of the Cooley Inn, where other patrol cars were waiting.

Connolly crossed a grass verge at high speed, and headed in the Dundalk direction, almost losing control of the car.

Gda. Daly eventually managed to overtake him, as Gda. Flynn and Gda. Pádraig O'Reilly, in an unmarked vehicle, moved up behind Connolly.

The accused continued to take both sides of the road, and drove into the side of the unmarked vehicle.

The Corolla veered off the road, onto a bank, and was then facing Carlingford.

At Millgrange, Gda. O'Reilly exited his car, and Connolly drove straight at him, before colliding with another patrol car which had arrived at the scene.

The incident ended when he drove into the passenger side of the car containing Gardaí Daly and McNally, jamming himself.

Connolly and another man in the Toyota were restrained, and arrested.

In a subsequent interview at Dundalk garda station, he gave cynical answers to some questions, telling investigators it was a free country.

Det. Gda. Flynn added a stolen USB key chain, containing wedding photos, was found on him.

It had been taken during a burglary at a house earlier in the evening.

Damage to the three garda vehicles amounted to approximately €11,000, while the Toyota Corolla, valued €15,000, was written off.

The court heard Karl Connolly is in rehab for drugs at a facility in Ballingarry, Co. Tipperary.

He remembered nothing of what happened, and was shocked and disgusted at what he did after reading the book of evidence.

He wrote a letter of apology to the guards and owner of the stolen car.

Judge Michael O'Shea noted this was a high level of dangerous driving and endangerment, while under the influence of intoxicants, after a three-day drugs binge.

Thankfully, Gda. O'Reilly was not injured.

The judge imposed a total of three years imprisonment, and suspended the last 12 months.

A four-year driving disqualification was also handed down, and Judge O'Shea said Connolly should get credit for a period he spent in custody following the incident.

The Argus