Youth who drunkenly highjacked car sentenced to six years with two suspended

A youth who hijacked a car at knife-point and later crashed into a couple's vehicle after he drove dangerously with his lights off in an attempt to kill himself has been sentenced to six years in prison with the final two suspended.

Ian Dunne (aged 21) drank 34 units of alcohol in two hours before he reached into Sharon McGrath's car while she was stopped at traffic lights, put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her.

He then turned off the car's ignition and dragged her from the vehicle before he drove off at high speed towards the Naas Road having used the knife to restart the engine.

Dunne failed to stop for gardaí after they were alerted to his dangerous driving by ambulance crew in West Dublin and he continued to speed through junctions, breaking red lights and swerving from the inbound to the outbound lanes on the Naas Road.

He then turned off the vehicle's lights and continued to weave in and out of lanes before he crashed into a Toyota Corolla at Newlands Cross in Clondalkin.

Garda Eammon Ryan said the couple who were in the Corolla were taken to Tallaght Hospital where the man received stitches to a cut on his head and the woman had a fractured arm.

He told Ms Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that when gardaí first got to Dunne he was slumped across the two front seats of the car, had no pulse and was not breathing. He was dragged from the car and started breathing again. He was brought to hospital but had no serious injuries.

Dunne with an address at Cloonlara Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, to unlawfully taking possession of Ms McGrath's Nissan Micra, reckless endangerment, dangerous driving, failing to stop, driving without insurance and failing to provide a blood sample on September 17, 2007.

He had never come to Garda attention prior to that night but has since racked up nine criminal convictions, which included road traffic and public order offences. He has since been disqualified from driving for a year.

Ms McGrath told Judge Katherine Delahunt that she was traumatised by the incident and finds it difficult to drive alone in a car anymore. She said that she always takes the same route to work and won't deviate to pick up a friend or a colleague.

She said although she did not suffer any physical injuries she had to take medication to combat anxiety and help her sleep.

Mr Shane Costelloe BL, defending told Ms McGrath that Dunne wished to apologise for his behaviour that night and said that his client only hopes that one day she will be able to forgive him.

Judge Delahunt said "these were acts of pure badness but have to be viewed in the context of someone who had never been in trouble before" but added: "I have no doubt that for Ms McGrath and the couple that night it was their worst nightmare," and: "You put the general public at serious risk."

She said she was satisfied that Dunne went out that night to put an end to all his troubles but said he had undertaken this without any regard for the consequences.

Judge Delahunt banned Dunne from driving for six years before she suspended the final two years of the sentence on strict conditions.


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