Limerick driver jailed for reversing stolen SUV at garda

Limerick driver jailed for reversing stolen SUV at garda

Garda Tom McGlinchey

A MAN who deliberately reversed a stolen SUV at a garda has been sentenced to two and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

Evan Fitzgerald, 26, who has an address at Bru na Gruadan, Castletroy, Limerick had pleaded guilty to “recklessly or intentionally” engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to Garda Tom McGlinchey at Boher Community Centre on September 3, 2018.

During a sentencing hearing, Limerick Circuit Court was told Mr Fitzgerald stole the high-powered Chrysler SUV from a yard at Annaholty on the Limerick-Tipperary border earlier on the same day.

Detective Garda Dean Landers said after the Chrysler was reported stolen, details of the vehicle were circulated to gardai.

The vehicle was spotted at a number of locations and in the early evening, Garda McGlinchey and a colleague observed it in the car park of Boher Community Centre, which was closed for renovations at the time.

He said Garda McGlinchey got out of the patrol car and walked towards the Chrysler. While approaching the stolen car, he noticed a man running towards the passenger side of the vehicle which then “reversed at speed at him”.

Detective Garda Landers told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that Garda McGlinchey put out his hand and signaled to the driver to stop but that Mr Fitzgerald failed to do so.

“He was left with no choice but to jump out of the way to avoid being struck,” he said adding that Garda McGlinchey later told investigating gardai that he was in fear for his life.

In a statement, an eyewitness told gardai that he believed Garda McGlinchey was going to be rammed saying “he’s a lucky man”.

The stolen vehicle, which was badly damaged, was located a number of weeks later at Friarstown, Grange and following his arrest the defendant, who has 50 previous convictions. made full admissions telling gardai that he owed a substantial drug debt.

He made admissions relating to the theft of the car but said he did not remember reversing at Garda McGlinchey as he was intoxicated.

Guilty pleas were also entered to a number of other charges relating to a number of  “drive-offs” from petrol stations in the city and in Kilmallock on dates during 2018.

Barrister Eimear Carey said Mr Fitzgerald comes from a hard-working and decent family but began using drugs at a young age and owed around €5,000.

She said he had fallen in with a “bad crowd”, is easily-led but had been working part-time before his bail was revoked last March.

Imposing sentence, Judge Martina Baxter accepted Mr Fitzgerald is remorseful and that he is doing well in prison and hopes to enter a residential treatment programme when released.

She imposed sentences totalling three and-a-half years’ imprisonment, suspending the final 12 months.

A ten-year disqualification was also imposed.