Burglar gang tried to ram gardaí off the road in high-speed car chase, court hears

TWO Garda cars were rammed during a high-speed chase with burglars along the Kerry-Cork border.

A blow torch, axes, hatchets, screwdrivers, vice grips and a manhole cover remover were discovered after the thieves’ car crashed.

The Garda chase between Killarney and Millstreet, on the night of March 25, 2006, was described to Judge Carroll Moran at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee yesterday.

Members of a four-man Dublin-based gang were attempting to escape after a number of unoccupied houses had been broken into in Killarney earlier that evening, the court heard.

Det Sgt Padraig Sears, based in Killarney, said the lives of a number of gardaí who tried to overtake the gang’s car were put at risk.

John Wall, 40, of St Patrick’s, Fortunestown Lane, Saggart, Dublin, along with Daniel Connors, 39, of The Paddocks, Kilcock, Co Kildare and Walls’s son-in-law Thomas O’Reilly, 22, from Fonthill Road halting site, Clondalkin, Dublin, each pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary at houses in Killarney, on the date in question.

They also pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and creating a substantial risk of death and harm to others while in a car between Killarney and Millstreet.

Edward Wall, 36, of Fortunestown Crescent, Tallaght, a brother of John Wall, pleaded guilty to the burglary charges.

All the accused had previous convictions for a variety of offences.

Prosecuting barrister Tom Rice said the gang’s silver Mondeo had been under surveillance all the way from Portlaoise to Killarney.

Mr Rice said gardaí from a number of divisions were involved in the operation which was part of a continuing investigation into a series of burglaries in Killarney in the winter and spring of 2005/2006. Gardaí, he said, had received confidential information.

Between 8.20pm and 9pm, while the owners of the houses were out on the Saturday night, four houses in various parts of Killarney were burgled by the gang. Back doors and windows were prised open.

An array of equipment found in the Mondeo and handed into court included a blow torch, axes, hatchets, screwdrivers, vice grips and a manhole cover remover.

The raiders spent about five to six minutes in each house, removing jewellery, expensive brands of cosmetics, clothing and cash, while an axe was taken to a mahogany stairs on a house in the Muckross Road in an attempt to remove a safe.

Three of the four were seen getting into the car by gardaí who had them under surveillance the whole time.

At a safe distance from the town, gardaí were told by supervisors to move in on the gang.

However, on two occasions as the Garda car — blue lights flashing and siren on — tried to overtake, the gang rammed the car.

Det Sgt Sears said the driver of the Mondeo pushed over to the right side in an attempt to ram the Garda vehicle off the road.

“It was highly dangerous,” said the Garda witness. “The second Garda car attempting to overtake got the same treatment and an attempt was made to push it into the ditch. Both cars were extensively damaged.”

The wheel of the burglars’ car blew out but they continued through the town of Millstreet, where they eventually crashed. The three tried to get away on foot but were followed and apprehended by pursuing gardaí.

Judge Moran deferred his decision until Friday next on whether to pass sentence, or to further adjourn the case for compensation to be paid to the victims of the burglaries.

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