Possible recreational motive for men fleeing from gardaí before fatal crash

‘Trying to get one over on the guards’ among possible motives being examined

Flowers and messages left on a signpost at the place on the N7 between Baldonnel and Citywest in Dublin where three men died in a head-on crash with a lorry on Wednesday night. Photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins

Flowers and messages left on a signpost at the place on the N7 between Baldonnel and Citywest in Dublin where three men died in a head-on crash with a lorry on Wednesday night. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

Gardaí investigating the deaths of three men on the N7 in Co Dublin on Wednesday have not ruled out the possibility that they were trying to entice a patrol car into a pursuit for recreational purposes.

Officers believe Carl Freeman (26), Graham Taylor (31) and Dean Maguire (29), all from Tallaght, are the three men who died when the car burst into flames after crashing head-on into a truck near Rathcoole at about 11.40pm.

DNA testing and dental records were required to formally identify them and that process had not been officially completed on Friday, but gardaí believed they knew their identities from the outset.

The three had convictions for numerous driving offences, among many other crimes, and Taylor and Maguire had both previously driven into oncoming traffic while being pursued by gardaí.

The three were traveling in a BMW 3 Series owned by one of their associates at the time. They were prolific burglars but gardaí said they were not being sought for any crime on Wednesday night when noticed by members of the force on duty in Cheeverstown.

Instead, the car’s headlights were off, which attracted the attention of gardaí in a patrol car. It appears that once the men saw the Garda vehicle and knew they had been spotted, they drove off at speed.

They were pursued for a period but when they drove the wrong way on to the N7, going against the traffic on the inbound carriageway, they were not followed. It was intended that a Garda helicopter would track them but the crash happened minutes later.

Headlights off

Garda sources said it was hard to determine why the BMW’s headlights were off and why they drove off when they saw gardaí, but they were not ruling out the possibility that the men wanted to be pursued for recreational purposes.

“They were in a car that could have been traced back to them and the only thing that drew attention on to them was the headlights being off,” said one.

“But for some of these guys, being chased by the guards or trying to get one over on the guards is sometimes the only motivation they need, though we’ll never know that for sure.”

The driver of the truck suffered injuries and was said to be very shaken by the experience. He was taken to Tallaght University Hospital and was recovering yesterday.

An Garda Síochána is carrying out the main investigation into the crash but because the three died and the possibility of criminal charges does not arise, the case file is likely to be used only to inform coroner’s inquests.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission was carrying out its own inquiry as it is legally obliged to investigate any case where a person dies or suffers injury at or around the time they had dealings with gardaí. That investigation is likely to focus on whether the pursuit of the men’s vehicle was proportionate and how long it was after the chase that the fatal crash occured.