Survivor of stolen car in which two died jailed for total of 21 months

 

A teenager who survived a crash in which two of his friends died in Cork city on Monday night was yesterday jailed for nine months. David Walsh (18) from Carbery Grove, Knocknaheeny, Cork, pleaded guilty at Kanturk District Court to allowing himself be carried in a stolen car. The fatal incident took place at Carrigrohane Straight on Monday night when the Honda Civic hit a pillar.

Walsh emerged uninjured, but two others, Ian Ward (20), a father of one, from Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, and Christopher Kearney (18), from Hillcrest, Blarney Road, were killed.

Yesterday Judge Michael Pattwell sentenced Walsh to nine months consecutive at St Patrick's Institution for the offence after earlier sentencing him to 12 months' detention for a separate offence of using a stolen car in Cork on April 7th last.

Garda Sean Leahy said Walsh was the driver of a white Ford Escort stolen from the Boreenamanna Road which hit speeds of 110 m.p.h. on the night in question.

Garda Leahy said he chased in a Garda car and caught up with the stolen car at a roundabout in Bishopstown when the driver lost control and spun around. There were four youths in the car but he could see clearly Walsh was the driver.

Garda Pat Galvin said he met the stolen car coming down the Western Road without any lights and he gave chase across the city to the northside, where the car hit speeds of over 90 m.p.h.

He was aware two other Garda cars had already lost the car but managed to overtake it as it slowed down by the Blackstone Bridge and blocked it while an unmarked Garda car pulled up behind and hemmed it in.

He saw Walsh jump from the driver's door and he grabbed him while three others got out the passenger door. Two others were arrested by Garda Sheila White while a fourth escaped, he told Insp Richard Duggan.

Walsh admitted travelling in the stolen car but insisted he was not the driver. He was a back-seat passenger and climbed out the driver's window while the others got out the passenger door, he said.

Walsh's mother, Margaret, broke down as she gave evidence of how David had been a well-behaved youngster, interested in fishing, hunting and pigeons, up until earlier this year when her partner, Mr Timmy O'Leary, died of a brain haemorrhage.

David's father had left her 14 years ago and he only once tried to make contact with his son. Mr O'Leary became a father figure to David but when he died, David became very withdrawn and started staying out late.

Walsh's solicitor, Mr Patrick Casey, said his client had left school at 14 and had poor reading and writing skills. He had started taking drugs but had no previous convictions before the April incident. He pleaded for leniency.

Judge Pattwell noted the silence in the court as Mrs Walsh told her story. "It was a sad tale and my heart goes out to Mrs Walsh - it's obvious she had a sad life and the one small bit of happiness was taken away from her," he said.

"But I have to be very hard and cold and look at the facts before me and it was a horrific and shocking episode of driving which sprang from the taking of an innocent person's car - it was chance the width of a straw that no one was killed," he said.

He said people stealing cars from law-abiding citizens who were working hard to pay back loans and pay tax and insurance on their cars was not acceptable. His attitude was to come down hard on such people.

He sentenced Walsh to 12 months for unlawfully using the car and he banned him from driving for 10 years. "I hope during this time he will achieve some maturity before he sits before the wheel of a car again," he said.

The judge also convicted and sentenced Walsh to two terms of six months on two counts of criminal damage to two Garda cars and ordered him to pay compensation of £835 and £100, starting at rates of £40 and £10 per month in 2001.

He also sentenced him to three months for driving without insurance but marked the sentence along with the two criminal damage sentences concurrent. He also endorsed Walsh's licence. Recognisances were set in the event of an appeal.