A MAN has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing a Mercedes, along with two guns and nearly 200 rounds of ammunition - when he was ordered by the courts to be of good behaviour under a suspended sentence.
Judge Carroll Moran at Limerick Circuit Court said the defendant and four others in the vehicle were “lucky not to have been killed when the car crashed at considerable speed” in the high speed chase of up to 200 km/hr, with gardai in pursuit.
Richard Gallagher, 23, of Oliver Plunkett Street, St Mary’s Park, pleaded guilty to stealing a vehicle, and intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct that posed a risk of death and serious harm on November 20, 2010. He also committed a burglary in Corbally on June 1, 2011, while he was on bail for previous offences. No charges were brought in relation to the firearms.
A Corbally resident had left his shooting gear in his jeep overnight, and at 2am his neighbour observed a male taking a bag, which contained the double barrel shotgun and a .22rifle, from a jeep, and called the gardai. Gallagher then drove off in a silver Mercedes, belonging to the man’s wife, after he found a spare set of keys.
Shortly afterwards he was spotted by gardai and accelerated to 180km/hr out the Corbally Road. Gardai lost sight of the vehicle but a 999 call from a female in a car crash who didn’t know where they were was later picked up.
The car had travelled 20 feet into mid-air, breaking branches off trees, when it veered off the road, gardai said. Gardai said they heard the screams of three teenage girls in the vehicle at the end of the field when they arrived at the scene.
He was arrested on November 30, after a warrant was issued, and made admissions to gardai. The court heard he also co-operated in the recovery of the firearms and ammunition.
Michael Collins, BL, for the defence, said his client is now off alcohol and “appreciates the damage that drink has caused in his life”. He said he wants to devote his time to his 10-month old daughter, born three days before he entered custody. The defendant, who has three convictions for hit and run offences, was sentenced to three years in prison on the first set of offences, backdated to July last, with a consecutive two-year sentence for the burglary charge.
The final year has been suspended for five years, during which he will be bound to the peace. He has also been disqualified from driving for 15 years, as the Judge said “the driving in this case was particularly bad”.