Judge Gerard O’Brien said yesterday that two gardaí were almost killed on the night.
“It is appalling that gardaí are exposed to such horrific dangers,” he said. The judge imposed a jail term of seven years with the last two years suspended.
Denis Kelly, aged 30, of Coolageela, Kanturk, Co Cork, and Orchard Court, Banteer, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to charges of stealing a jeep at Curraraigue, Rathcoole, on January 14, and endangerment of Garda Ian Doolan and Garda Clement Sillery at Coolageela, Kanturk, by ramming the jeep into the Garda car causing a risk of death or serious injury.
The jeep was stolen shortly before midnight and the ramming occurred early on January 15. The jeep rammed the Garda car as the driver ignored the blue light and siren signalling for him to stop. A second ramming occurred later in the pursuit.
Gardaí were reversing away from the jeep which sped up in reverse and rammed them with such ferocity that the rear wheels of the jeep rolled up on the Garda car and crashed through the windscreen.
Detective sergeant Derek Mulcahy said it could have landed on top of the two gardaí but for the fact that it turned over.
“He was interviewed on six occasions. He made no admissions. He never enquired about the two injured gardaí or showed remorse about what happened,” Det Sgt Mulcahy said.
Kelly said: “I am so sorry for the things I done and the harm I caused to the gardaí that night. I regret what happened. It shouldn’t have happened. I was addicted to heroin.
That went and then it was tablets. I am starting drugs counselling in prison. I am fixing hurleys and working with wood.
Kelly had 113 previous conviction including two for stealing cars and three for burglary.
As well as pleading guilty to stealing the vehicle and the endangerment he also admitted damaging the Garda car and handling stolen property.
Det Sgt Mulcahy said the incident was so serious that it led to a change of policing in north Cork.
“There are now armed patrols at night so that they can do their duties without being in fear. This was the first time guards in Kanturk were targeted like this,” he said.