Jail for driver in ‘Russian roulette’ chase with gardaí in Limerick

An unemployed man involved in a high-speed Garda chase, driving a new car he bought for €30,500, engaged in behaviour akin to Russian roulette, a court heard.

Martin McDonagh, aged 28, of the unofficial halting site, Coonagh, Limerick, was jailed yesterday, at Limerick Circuit Court, for nine years with three suspended, for offences of reckless endangerment arising from his driving, and for other crimes of violence.

Judge Tom O’Donnell said it was the luck of God nobody was killed during the chase on January 21, 2015.

When McDonagh pleaded guilty last week, Judge O’Donnell “noted with interest” the large sum of cash he paid for his car and the fact he was on free legal aid.

McDonagh sped at up to 140km/h, running red lights, going on the wrong side of roads, and twice becoming airborne on bridges as he tried to evade armed members of the Regional Response Unit. McDonagh was disqualified from driving and on bail at the time.

Garda Anne-Marie Hassett gave a graphic account of the chase which ensued through city streets, ending on a country road.

“It was like playing Russian roulette,” she said.

The court heard that McDonagh had a history of driving while disqualified and without insurance.

Garda Hassett, who arrested McDonagh, said this incident marked a significant escalation in his behaviour.

A blood sample gave an alcohol reading of 118. The legal limit is 50.

He had previous convictions and was not employed or ever known to have been employed.

McDonagh also pleaded guilty to charges arising from a campaign of violence he waged against his in-laws over his disapproval of how female members of that family socialised.

The family had to receive Garda protection and move home as a result.

He also pleaded guilty to intimidating a man who was to be a witness in a case against him.

Judge O’Donnell said McDonagh showed a level of arrogance which was breathtaking and felt he could sort out his problems with threats, intimidation, and violence, and had no regard for the road traffic laws.

He backdated the six-year sentence to March 24, 2015, when McDonagh was taken into custody.


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