Teenager who drove wrong way up M8 and caused fatal crash jailed for four years

Youth (17) pleaded guilty to killing passenger and injuring four other people, including driver of second car

A teenager who crashed a stolen car as he drove the wrong way down a Co Cork motorway, killing his passenger and seriously injuring a woman in the car he hit, has been jailed for four years.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Johnny Foley (16) of Spur Hill in Togher in Cork died in the crash on the M8 at Ballybeg, Mitchelstown, on July 1st, 2023.

Two other teenage boys and a teenage girl travelling in the car being driven by the 17-year-old accused were injured.

Mental health occupational therapist Roisin Stakelum was seriously injured when the stolen car collided head-on with her car. She told the court she was en route to Dublin Airport to fly to Australia to start a new life when the crash occurred.


“In the immediate aftermath of the crash, I was in so much pain, I wished I had died,” Ms Stakelum said in a victim impact statement.

The 17-year-old youth pleaded guilty to a series of charges, including dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Foley and dangerous driving causing serious harm to Ms Stakelum.

He also pleaded guilty to a count of endangerment, where other motorists had to take evasive action.

Det Garda John Murphy of Fermoy Garda Station outlined the case to Judge Helen Boyle.

He said the five juveniles involved arrived in Glanworth village shortly before midnight on June 30th, 2023, in a Toyota they had stolen in Cork two days earlier. He told the court that the five teenagers tried to steal another car.

However, they were disturbed by the owner of the second vehicle who contacted gardai.

Gardaí responded but the driver did a u-turn in Glanworth village and took off at speed, losing the chasing gardaí.

About 30 minutes later, gardaí spotted the stolen vehicle near Mitchelstown. However, the juvenile avoided arrest by going around two roundabouts the wrong way at high speed.

Det Garda Murphy told how at the second of these roundabouts, the juvenile drove on to the M8 motorway and headed south on the northbound lane for more than 6km at speeds in excess of 170km/h, forcing several other motorists to take evasive action.

Shrortly before 1am the juvenile driving the stolen Toyota southwards crashed head-on into a Kia Riva being driven Ms Stakelum.

In sentencing, Judge Boyle said that the youth had caused “life changing” injuries to some and the death of another in the incident.

She acknowledged that the youth had had little to no parental assistance growing up. Judge Boyle said that he had had a “highly dysfunctional childhood” where he experienced severe neglect.

She extended her condolences to the family of Johnny Foley and said that the loss of life of such a young man was tragic.

Judge Boyle said that there was a certain “inevitability” about the crash given the manner in which the car was being driven. She ruled that the youth be detained for four years.

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