THE 16-year-old taxi hijacker who was killed in a horror car crash was on the run from authorities in Northern Ireland and the gardai.
Bernard 'Barney' McDonagh was a key member of a dangerous gang of Traveller criminals who are suspected of being involved in "violent robberies at post offices from Wexford to Donegal."
His cousin Thomas McDonagh (18) remains in a critical condition in hospital today after the stolen taxi they were travelling in spun out of control and struck a van to the north of Slane on the N2.
Senior sources say that Bernard McDonagh was on the run at the time of his death and warrants had been issued by courts in both the Republic and the North for his arrest.
"The late Mr McDonagh was extremely well known to gardai and the PSNI. He was an important member of a gang of Traveller criminals based in Inchicore and Ballyfermot.
"Tragically this teenager has been involved in serious crime since he was only 12 years old," said a senior source.
The Herald can reveal that the courts in the North issued a warrant for the arrest of Bernard McDonagh in February when he failed to answer bail in relation to a spate of burglaries.
Last month Gorey District Court in Co Wexford also issued a warrant for Bernard McDonagh's arrest after he failed to appear on a robbery charge.
A source said: "He was a bad yoke in fairness -- completely out of control."
The taxi hijacker was also the chief suspect in the theft of €2,800 in Ballymangen, Co Donegal in July 2011.
The stolen Toyota Avenis taxi that Bernard McDonagh and his cousin were travelling in went out of control after it glanced off a white van being driven by an innocent local couple at Glassallen hill, on the main Dublin-to-Derry road at around 12.30am yesterday.
The couple were shaken but not seriously hurt in the crash.
Gardai believe that after it struck the van, the car crashed into a tree and both occupants were thrown from it.