Garda hopeful of arrest after man dies while trying to prevent car theft

Dublin-based car thief identified as chief suspect following death of businessman

Gardaí are hopeful of making an arrest this week in relation to the death of a man who suffered serious injuries while trying to prevent the theft of his car in west Dublin.

Ian McDonnell was lifted on to the boot of his car as thieves drove it away in Clondalkin last Sunday.

He was found lying on Robinhood Road with serious injuries, near the car dealership he managed, at about 6.15pm. Five days later his family made the decision to turn off his life support.

Gardaí say they have made good progress in the investigation to date and that a chief suspect, a known Dublin-based car thief, has been identified. The suspect may be charged with manslaughter as well as car theft if the evidence supports it, sources said.

CCTV footage from several cameras in the area have been helpful, as have door-to-door inquiries. Gardaí are also hopeful forensic evidence taken from Mr McDonnell’s stolen car, a VW Passat which was located on Friday, will play a decisive role in the investigation.

Mr McDonnell (50), who was originally from Roscommon but living in Lucan, was a manager at Ozone Car Sales. He is survived by his wife Monica and children Clodagh, Gareth and Aoife.

Gardaí said investigations have established that Mr McDonnell had attended his local business premises a short time earlier.

“While present he intervened to prevent the theft of his car, a grey-coloured Volkswagen Passat, registration number 161 OY 1861. In doing so, he was carried on the bonnet of his vehicle, a distance, to where he was discovered,” a Garda statement on Saturday said.

Witness interviews

Mr McDonnell was removed from the scene by ambulance to Tallaght University Hospital and died on Friday evening.

A family liaison officer has been appointed to Mr McDonnell’s family while a postmortem is due to be carried out on Saturday.

Gardaí at Ballyfermot have conducted witness interviews, door-to-door inquiries and obtained CCTV.

The grey-coloured Volkswagen Passat, which left the scene, was located on Limekiln Green, Greenhills, Dublin 12, on Friday and is undergoing forensic examination.

A second vehicle involved in the incident, a silver-coloured Toyota Aqua, registration number 152 D 32687, which was stolen in Crumlin last Sunday afternoon, was located burnt out in Ballinascorney, Tallaght on Tuesday. This vehicle has also been recovered to be forensically examined.

Local Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery-Kearney described Mr McDonnell's death as "a terrible tragedy".

“The instinct to protect your property is understandable but it’s a terrible tragedy for his family. The gardaí will follow up here. It’s quiet enough around there but there have been reports of people trying to access cars in the general community.”

She joined others, including Dublin Mid-West Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward and Labour councillor Joanna Tuffy, in offering condolences to Mr McDonnell's wife and children.

Anyone with information, including potential witnesses or drivers with video or dash cam footage, are asked to contact Clondalkin Garda station at (01) 6667600, the Garda confidential line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times