Garda helicopter ‘struggled to keep up’ with boy driving 240km/h

Dublin teenager accused of stealing mother’s car remanded on continuing bail

The Children’s Court was told a Garda Air Support Unit helicopter struggled to keep up with the car the teenager was driving. File photograph: Frank Miller

The Children’s Court was told a Garda Air Support Unit helicopter struggled to keep up with the car the teenager was driving. File photograph: Frank Miller

 

A 17-year-old Dublin boy accused of reaching speeds of 240km/h after stealing his mother’s car and leading gardai on a high speed pursuit, has been remanded on continuing bail.

Judge Brendan Toale has deferred ruling on the issue of the boy’s trial venue and a psychological report has been sought. The case resumes at the Dublin Children’s Court in September.

The chase ended when the teen, who was allegedly followed by a Garda helicopter, collided with an armed response vehicle.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was charged with motor theft, dangerous driving, endangerment of life and driving without a licence or insurance after taking his mother’s car from their south Dublin home on the night of November 14th, 2018.

A decision is awaited on whether his case will proceed in the Children’s Court or get sent forward to the Circuit Court which has tougher sentencing powers.

In an outline of the allegations, garda Colum Smyth, of Rathmines station, had told Judge Toale earlier that he was alerted about a motor theft incident at the then 16-year-old boy’s home. He went there and took a statement from the teen’s mother.

Traffic pursuit

During a traffic pursuit, her car was spotted at Junction 10 on the M50 but it was lost by gardaí. It was detected again at about midnight at the N81 in Tallaght.

Garda Smyth said he passed the car at the Blessington Road as it was travelling in the opposite direction. It was going at 40km/h but “took off at high speed” onto Luas tracks at Citywest.

The boy was pursued along the tracks as Luas controllers were alerted to slow down on-coming trams.

The teenager left the tracks and later sped along the N7.

By his own admission the boy was driving at 220km/h-240km/h, the court was told. Garda Smyth was told the teen “came close to colliding with other vehicles” and a helicopter from the Garda Air Support Unit “struggled to keep up”.

The drive ended when the car collided with Garda armed response unit on the N7. He was taken to hospital after being deemed unfit for interview.

Gardaí questioned him at a later point in the presence of his father and during this interview the boy made admissions.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has recommended the case should be sent forward to the Circuit Court which has tougher sentencing powers.

Despite this, the Children’s Court can consider accepting jurisdiction by taking into account the age and level of maturity of the defendant as well as any other information deemed relevant.

Plead guilty

Defence solicitor Brian Keenan has asked the judge to note the boy was offering to plead guilty and understood his driving was unsafe. He admitted in his statement he “flew through junctions” and could have killed someone.

He had no prior convictions.

The court also heard the youth had been affected by traumatic experiences and health problems in early childhood. They had a “devastating” impact on his development.

He was also hospitalised last year as a result of having suicidal ideation for a number of years.

The boy had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. The court heard he did not do well in the Junior Certificate and in his childhood his parents had given him the “the best of everything”.

His mother who is listed in the charge sheet as the injured party was in court to support him, and his parents did not want to see him sent to a detention centre, the solicitor had said.

A forensic psychological assessment of the boy has been arranged.