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Physics academic avoids a big bang in 'bizarre' car chase with female garda


Dr Patrick McCarthy at Ennis Court

Dr Patrick McCarthy at Ennis Court

Dr Patrick McCarthy at Ennis Court

A physics whizz and respected academic got his sums all wrong when he evaded capture from a garda in a high-speed chase over more than 20 miles across Co Clare last year.

In the "bizarre" case before Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan banned Dr Patrick McCarthy from driving for one year and fined him €1,250 after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and a hit-and-run arising from his crash and subsequent chase in July last year.

The senior lecturer at University College Cork's Department of Physics is the author of papers on mind-bending topics such as magnetic confinement fusion, but he badly erred when he believed he was being chased by a road rage aggressor, rather than an off-duty female garda in her own car.

Father of four, Dr McCarthy (60) of Lee Road, Cork, "clipped" the car owned by off-duty garda Amanda Twomey on July 9 last at Miltown Malbay and took off.

"An intelligent man should have realised after a small impact, someone was likely to give chase," Judge Durcan said.


Inspector Tom Kennedy said garda Twomey was jolted forward enough to shake her in the car. Garda Twomey continued in hot pursuit flashing her lights at Dr McCarthy, who had not realised he collided with her car.

Inspector Kennedy said that Dr McCarthy drove aggressively trying to overtake cars as he sped away from garda Twomey's 02 black Mercedes.

Inspector Kennedy described the case as "bizarre", with Dr McCarthy's solicitor Daragh Hassett commenting: "You couldn't make it up."

Mr Hassett said that Dr McCarthy made a judgement call there and then, stating that he was the victim of a "road rage" incident in Cork city last year and this informed his thinking.

"Dr McCarthy had no idea who this person was pursuing him. The person may well have wanted to take his head off. That's the country we live in," Mr Hassett added.

When Dr McCarthy was finally stopped by a garda patrol car outside Ennis, Mr Hassett said that the first thing that Dr McCarthy said to the gardai was: "Am I relieved to see you."


Inspector Kennedy said that earlier in the chase Dr McCarthy narrowly missed crashing into a bus in the village of Inagh.

The inspector said that Dr McCarthy had no drink taken and was fully taxed and insured.

Judge Durcan described Dr McCarthy's behaviour in pulling out in front of garda Twomey's car as "arrogant" and showing "bad manners".