AN ELDERLY man had to jump into a ditch and a garda car was rammed during a high speed chase in the city and county.
The driver - Patrick Casey, aged 27, of Clonlong Halting Site, Southill - was arrested by a detective garda after Casey jumped a wall and ran through fields.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said it was “outrageous”.
“It was absolutely reckless to the highest degree. It was the luck of God that he, his partner, gardai and members of the public were not killed,” said Judge O’Donnell. Casey pleaded guilty to two endangerment, six dangerous driving, no insurance and no driving licence counts.
John O'Sullivan BL, prosecuting, said the chase started at 5.55pm on February 11, 2019.
Detective Garda Shane Kirwan was on mobile patrol when he observed a Ford Focus drive out of University Hospital Limerick and run a red light on St Nessan’s Road. Limerick Circuit Court heard that Casey was driving and he was accompanied by his partner.
Det Garda Kirwan activated the blue lights and sirens but said the car “drove off at speed”.
Mr O’Sullivan said Casey turned left onto Avonmore Road, then Mulcair Road and onto the Dooradoyle link road to the motorway.
“He undertook and overtook vehicles,” said Mr O’Sullivan. Casey continued “at speed” through to the two roundabouts, onto Ballyclough where he took a “sharp left, almost losing control” at the Euroville Estate.
The speed limit is 50kms but Det Garda Kirwan said he had to drive at 100kms to keep up with Casey.
Casey continued on the Mill and Fedamore Roads where he overtook cars with one driver having to take “evasive action to avoid a collision”.
“He continued on to the Fedamore Road towards the Roxboro roundabout. Traffic was heavy. He forced his way past cars on the Childers Road, drove on the wrong side of the road and collided with a private vehicle,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
Casey “almost lost control” at the Kilmallock Road roundabout as he headed towards Ballyneety on the Old Cork Road.
His speed increased to 120kms. Det Garda Kirwan said Casey “swerved” in front of him on a number of occasions. Mr O’Sullivan said Casey turned right at Donoughmore cross “narrowly avoiding hitting a boundary wall”.
Outside Donoughmore NS, Casey “nearly lost control” as he didn’t slow down for the speed ramps and the Ford Focus “left the road” as its four wheels were off the road.
Det Garda Kirwan said a pedestrian was walking on the road. “An elderly man had to jump in the ditch,” said the detective garda.
Limerick Circuit Court heard that a different garda car had parked itself on the road ahead of Casey to block him.
“He (Casey) made no effort to slow down. The garda feared for his life. He (Casey) collided with the driver’s side of the vehicle. I ended up in the ditch myself. Three garda vehicles were damaged.
“He jumped a wall and ran through fields where I arrested him,” said Det Garda Kirwan, who added that Casey drove for 20 minutes in total in a highly reckless manner.
Mr O’Sullivan said Casey has previous convictions for robbery, burglary, theft, possession of an article, dangerous driving, drink driving, no insurance, no driving licence and was disqualified from driving at the time.
Pat Barriscale BL, defending, said his client told gardai in an interview that he “was disgusted and very sorry”.
“He said, ‘When I saw a patrol car I panicked because I knew I was not insured and I drove off’. His driving was disgraceful but thankfully no one was injured.
“His partner’s uncle was dying in hospital and she wanted to see him. It was a mistake,” said Mr Barriscale.
In mitigation, he said while Casey has been on remand he has missed the birth of his child and there have been no prison visits due to Covid-19. Mr Barriscale said that Casey’s father died two months ago and was not allowed to go to the funeral.
“There is a hole in his life. He wants to turn his life around going forward and be a role model for his child,” said Mr Barriscale.
Judge Tom O’Donnell, who happens to know the chase route, said it was an “outrageous performance”. “On the Donoughmore road one car has to back off to let the other pass,” he said.
From the point of view of the garda in the parked car, Judge O’Donnell said to see a vehicle coming at you like a missile…
“And the poor misfortune having to jump in a ditch… He drove on regardless. It was the luck of God somebody was not injured,” said Judge O’Donnell.
While he did have sympathy for Casey missing the birth of his child and his father’s funeral he was the “author of his own misfortune.”
The judge handed down a three year prison sentence for endangerment backdated to July 14, 2019. Judge O’Donnell also disqualified Casey from driving for 10 years. Everything else was taken into consideration.