Family of high-speed Garda pursuit fatality to sue force

Criminal John Joyce who fatally injured Diana Harton (43) on bail for serious offences

Ms Harton’s family is taking a case against the Garda, the criminal who was driving the vehicle that fatally injured Ms Harton, and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland

Ms Harton’s family is taking a case against the Garda, the criminal who was driving the vehicle that fatally injured Ms Harton, and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland

 

The family of a woman killed during a high-speed Garda chase has launched a civil action.

Diana Harton (43) was killed in a crash on the M7 motorway at Claregate Court, Co Kildare, 12 months ago. Her family is now taking a case against the Garda, the criminal who was driving the vehicle that fatally injured Ms Harton, and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland, which compensates victims of road traffic incidents caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles.

Speaking on behalf of Ms Harton’s family, solicitor Stuart Gilhooly said they believed her death was preventable and were more angry with the Garda than the criminal whose driving caused her death.

John Joyce (24), St Brigids Lawn, Clonsilla, Dublin, was uninsured and under the influence of drink and drugs when he crashed into Ms Harton.

Joyce, who was drinking with four others in the car as he drove at up to 160km/h on October 23rd, 2014, was on bail at the time. He was facing two counts of threatening and abusive behavior and had also been charged with criminal damage and trespass.

He had previously been disqualified from driving for six months after being convicted on three counts of dangerous driving.

He received another suspended sentence of eight months in 2013 for theft as well as suspended terms of one month for theft in 2014 and on an unrelated charge last year of refusing to give his name to gardaí.

Five-year jail term

The inquest into Ms Harton’s death concluded on Tuesday at Kildare Coroner’s Court, with the jury recommending the Garda review its pursuits policies.

Mr Gilhooly said the chase was not co-ordinated, that gardaí had not been trained properly and did not appear to know the rules around pursuits.

Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, did not respond to queries from The Irish Times.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc), which investigated the actions of the gardaí and sent a file to the DPP, said no wrongdoing was found.

“No evidence was found to indicate any misconduct by the garda drivers and observers involved in the pursuit and Gsoc believes they acted in good faith,” it said.

However, it also observed “a lack of authorisation and ongoing control of the pursuit”.

It has recommended Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan review those sections of the Garda code relating to pursuits and that “practical pursuit training be rolled out” for gardaí.