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Three years for taxi hijacker who caused death of teen cousin

a Dublin man who hijacked a taxi which later crashed in Meath, causing the death of his teenage cousin, has been jailed for three years.

Thomas McDonagh (21) of Kylemore Grove, Ballyfermot admitted taking the taxi through force or the threat of force on March 27, 2012 at Tyrconnell Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8.

His cousin, Bernard McDonagh, who was aged 16 at the time, was also involved.

Shortly after the hijacking, the taxi crashed into another car near Slane Castle in County Meath. Bernard McDonagh died from his injuries hours later, while Thomas McDonagh suffered serious injuries.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said the fact that McDonagh was on bail for a 2011 robbery at the time was an aggravating factor.

In October he was sentenced at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court to six years for that robbery.

Yesterday Judge Ring suspended the last two years of a five-year sentence on condition that McDonagh engage with the Probation Services after his release. This sentence is to run consecutive to the sentence he is currently serving.

Garda Ian O'Brien told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that taxi-driver Lawall Aminou was working in the Inchicore area shortly after 11pm on the night when he stopped at a red light.

Mr Aminou picked up two men who had waved at him outside a takeaway. When they got into the taxi, the man in the front passenger seat took out a kitchen knife, put it to Mr Aminou's neck and said: "You'd want to keep driving."

The second, who was sitting behind Mr Aminou, grabbed his jumper and twisted it, saying "If you make any bad moves, I will kill you".

Mr Aminou managed to open his seat belt and jumped out of the moving car. One of the men got into the driver's seat and sped off.

Collision

Some time later, gardai in Slane reported a serious two-car collision, involving the stolen taxi, in which two men were critically injured.

Bernard McDonagh was pronounced dead at Drogheda Hospital, while Thomas McDonagh suffered numerous injuries including a broken spine and bleeding on his brain.

In a victim impact statement read out on his behalf, Mr Aminou said the incident had changed his life.

He said he was too upset and frightened to return to work for two months, and though he has since resumed taxi-driving, he is now much more cautious.

Thomas McDonagh was arrested six months later but told gardai he could not remember anything about the night because of injuries he suffered himself.

The court heard that McDonagh nearly died in the crash and spent a month on life support. His lung was punctured and his brain injury caused a significant personality change.

He now suffers from epilepsy among other cognitive and medical issues for which he will be on medication for life.

He has ten previous convictions, including robbery. The rest are for minor road traffic offences and criminal damage.

hnews@herald.ie


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