A MAN who stole a Mercedes, along with two guns and nearly 200 rounds of ammunition crashed after driving close to 200 km/hr as he attempted to evade gardai in a high speed chase, Limerick Circuit Court has heard.
Richard Gallagher, 23, with an address at Oliver Plunkett Street, St Mary’s Park, has 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.
Garda Neil O’Gorman said a Corbally resident had left his shooting gear in his jeep the night before, as he was planning to go to a shooting range in Mallow the next morning.
At around 2am his neighbour stepped outside for a cigarette and saw a male standing in the grass, 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 on patrol at O’Dwyer’s Bridge, and failed to stop for gardai.
Mr Gallagher then accelerated to 180km/hr out the Corbally Road, and was close to a collision before picking up speed again.
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.
The girls, two aged 18 and one 16 year-old, had agreed to “go for a spin” with the defendant and another male when they pulled up outside Fine Wines in Thomondgate. “Miraculously they all managed to survive,” said John O’Sullivan, BL, for the prosecution.
The girls were in a “state of distress”, while the front of the car was “completely destroyed”, but Mr Gallagher was not 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.
The defendant has a number of previous convictions for possession of knives, road traffic offences, public order, being involved in a hit and run, and assault causing harm. This was his first appearance in the circuit court, however.
Michael Collins, BL, for the defence, said his client now has a young child with his partner.
Mr Collins said his client was intoxicated on the night of the burglary, and “didn’t recall an awful lot of what happened.”
The couple residing in the house said they secured the house before going to bed, but awoke the next morning to find items scattered around the kitchen, after entry was gained through the computer room at the front of the property.
Fingerprints of his were found inside the house, but a number of items taken were again recovered.
A legal issue arose over whether the case should be returned to the district court, where a nine-month suspended sentence was imposed, which could be re-activated. He has been in custody since July 13 last year.
The case will be dealt with again in the circuit court this Wednesday, May 16.