Teenager involved in high-speed chase from cemetery found guilty

By Tom Tuite

A DUBLIN youth is awaiting sentence after he was found guilty of dangerous driving in a graveyard before leading gardai on a high-speed pursuit.

The then 17-year-old boy had denied the allegations and claimed he was travelling as a passenger in the car, but he was found guilty following a contested hearing before Judge Brendan Toale at the Dublin Children’s Court.

Bohernabreena Cemetry 11 compressor

Bohernabreena cemetery was the start of a high-speed pursuit

Sentencing was adjourned for a probation report to be prepared.

The pursuit started at Bohernabreena Cemetery in south County Dublin just before 4pm on November 15, 2018, less than a month after he had been disqualified from driving.

The car drove alongside graves before it broke red lights, drove on wrong sides of busy roads, mounted a kerb and two green areas before it was abandoned while it was still moving.

Detective Garda David Connolly told the court he responded to a report of a car driving dangerously at the cemetery.

He went there in an unmarked patrol car and scanned the cemetery, he said in evidence. His attention was drawn to a small silver car in the graveyard car park.

It began speeding hard on graves and accelerating hard and drove toward the patrol car, but there was not enough room for both to pass on the narrow roadway, he told the court.

Detective Garda Connolly said he reversed his car.

The silver vehicle approached at speed passing close by the unmarked car on his right-hand side.

The wheels of the silver car would have been against the graves along the roadway, he said.

He recalled having a good look at the young man driving, and that he noticed there was a female front-seat passenger in the car.

The silver car headed to the exit which had high walls on either side, while the garda activated his lights and sirens. The car drove out of the cemetery at speed and turned right giving no chance for traffic coming from either direction, he said.

Detective Garda Connolly told the court the car drove around a number of bends sometimes on the wrong side of the road. At a T-junction it turned right and cut onto the wrong side as it travelled in the direction of Old Bawn area in Tallaght.

It broke a red light while there was heavy traffic and headed in the direction of the Tallaght bypass “down the centre of the road”.

Other vehicles had to take “avoidance action”.

It overtook a stationary line of traffic and headed toward Jobstown, the court heard. It also drove out in front of a motorcycle, and forced other vehicles to take avoidance action on the N81 outbound.

He could see the car was “skidding right and left, accelerating hard and braking hard”.

The car broke another red light and drove on the wrong side of the road passing stationary traffic before it mounted a kerb at Cloonmore Park.

It started to rain as the car drove across a green where there was a man walking a dog and someone else using a quad bike.

It drove between trees on the edge of the green and made its way to the Jobstown Road and back into an estate where it mounted another green.

The car then drove toward Cloonmore Park and turned 90 degrees.

At that stage, the detective said, he momentarily lost sight of it but he rounded a bend and saw it in the centre of the road “still moving and there did not appear to be anyone in it”.

He saw the driver climb a garden wall and go to ground.

A garda colleague searched one of the gardens and arrested the accused. He said he immediately recognised him as the same person driving the car.

He did not know where the female passenger went.

Cross-examined by defence counsel Amy Deane he agreed that in the cemetery he only saw the driver for a short period, maybe for ten seconds, but he had been looking at his face. He said he also concentrated on the driver.

He accepted people make mistakes but totally rejected a defence suggestion that the youth was not the driver.

A second garda also said he saw the youth driving. He agreed fingerprints from the car were not taken and he did not make notebook entries with details of the driver.

In evidence the teen claimed he had been a passenger, another unnamed male was the driver and they had gone to the cemetery to visit a grave.

He was found guilty of three counts of dangerous driving and one for not having motor insurance.

He had five convictions for motoring offences including dangerous driving and not having motor insurance or a licence which resulted in him being placed on probation for six months and banned from driving for two years on October 15 last year.

The judge acceded to request from the defence to allow reporting restrictions pending a High Court decision on whether youths who have aged out, by turning 18, can be named.

Counsel said the teenager acted as a carer for a close family member and helped another relative with mental health difficulties.

A full mitigation plea on the next date.

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