As retired friends walked to their car after their regular afternoon game of pitch and putt, they were mown down by a speeding car which was being pursued by gardaí following a burglary, a court heard.
One of the injured men, Eric Ryan, aged 79, a former Limerick hurler, lost a leg and another William Barry, who is in his 70s and a retired garda, suffered bleeding to the brain.
A third man, Dermot O’Brien, who was in his 70s, escaped injury, and has since died.
Limerick Circuit Court was told how as Mr Ryan and Mr Barry lay on the ground covered in blood, Michael Sheehan the driver of the car, ran over them as he fled the scene on foot.
Mr Ryan, in a victim impact statement, told how that day, September 25, 2014 changed his life. Up to then he was a 100% independent person, fit and active and able to look after his wife.
Now he is totally dependent on others and could no longer enjoy such simple pleasures as taking his grandchildren to feed ducks. His house had to be modified to accommodate his wheelchair.
Sheehan, aged 26, of 44 Cliona Park, Moyross, described in court as a full-time career criminal with 52 convictions, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing injury to the three victims and to a number of burglaries.
He had been given bail a few days earlier and had drank a nagan of vodka and cider prior to the incident.
Sheehan was seen carrying out a burglary near Parteen on the afternoon of September 25, 2014 and gardaí were alerted.
A hot pursuit ensued and Sheehan, accompanied by an unknown second man, drove at high speed crossing a main road before heading towards Parteen village.
The three elderly friends had been playing pitch and putt and had gone for food to Browne’s pub in the village.
As they walked towards the car park, Sheehan’s car sped around a corner and went out of control, hitting them. Sheehan, on jumping from his car, ran over the injured. He was caught by gardaí on foot a short time later.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said Mr Ryan’s victim impact statement was deeply harrowing and his injuries had utterly changed his life.
He said Sheehan was a full-time criminal and one of the many aggravating factors was the fact this crime was carried out thee days after getting bail.
He said: “This is a very serious case which commands a lengthy sentence.”
Judge O’Donnell jailed Sheehan for a total of eight years — five years for dangerous driving and a consecutive three-year sentence for a burglary he carried out in the same area in 2014.
For the burglary prior to the high-speed chase, a three-year concurrent sentence was imposed.
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