A court has heard how the courage of gardaí, at risk of serious injury to themselves, blocked a getaway car from driving the wrong way along the M1 motorway and endangering the lives of unsuspecting motorists.
Barrister Brid O’Flaherty told Ms Justice Mary Irvine that not only did the quick-thinking action of three gardaí, including a student garda, potentially save the lives of unwary drivers, they also got their man.
Judge Irvine, in a High Court Garda Compensation case, heard that squad car driver Brian Reidy, official observer Garda Karen Duffy and student garda Shane Haughney chased a high-powered Mercedes along the Malahide Road towards the M50 and the M1.
At speeds of more than 200kph the getaway car, stolen at the scene of a burglary earlier on the night of May 24, 2009, caused other drivers to brake suddenly and swerve to avoid a collision.
The driver of the getaway car switched from driving lane to hard shoulder and back again to cross at more than 200kph to the wrong side of the road into the faces of oncoming traffic.
Eventually the squad car, blue lights flashing and sirens activated, pulled in front of the Mercedes and prevented it from driving the wrong way up the M1 motorway.
Garda Duffy, Swords Garda Station, claimed damages for injuries she received when the getaway Mercedes rammed the garda vehicle. She said they had been patrolling the Waterside area of Swords, Co Dublin, when they had seen the stolen car on Malahide Road.
She told Ms O’Flaherty they switched on their blue warning lights and sirens in a bid to get the male driver to stop. Instead he had taken off at speed.
The garda car had been rammed on the ramp of the M50 leading on to the wrong lanes of the M1. It had been hit on the driver’s side by the stolen car and the driver had attempted to escape but had been caught and arrested.
Garda Duffy told Ms O’Flaherty she received injuries to her head, neck and back and had been off duty for a week followed by a week on light night duties. She still felt the occasional twitch of pain in her neck and back.
Judge Irvine said the Mercedes driver had put the lives of many motorists at risk and the chase at more than 200kph was a frightening experience for the gardaí, who had succeeded in preventing the stolen car driving against the flow of traffic on a motorway.
Awarding Garda Duffy €10,000 damages the judge said she had suffered headaches and pain to her neck and back for some time. She had also suffered a degree of anxiety and nerves as a passenger in garda cars which had been treated by counselling.