A young father-of-two who caused the death of his best friend through dangerous driving on a Dublin motorway has been sentenced to five years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Mark Kenna (aged 24) of Benburb Street, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty to unlawful taking and dangerous driving causing the death of 16-year-old passenger Daragh Carroll, when his stolen vehicle crashed into trees off the M50 northbound at Edmundstown in the early hours of January 18, 2007.
Detective Garda Daniel Treacy told prosecution counsel, Mr Colm Ó Briain BL in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, that gardaí were chasing Kenna in the stolen black Mitsubishi Lancer when the car veered into the middle of the road, passed back in front of a garda vehicle and flipped into trees on the left side of the road. It collided with a light pole and landed in trees on its roof.
Det Gda Treacy said emergency services cut Mr Carroll out of the car and took him to Beaumont Hospital where he died from his injuries in the early hours of the following morning.
Det Gda Treacy told Mr Ó Briain that he had stopped an Opel Corsa at Loughlinstown roundabout after he and his colleague saw it make a dangerous turn onto the N11 southbound before Cherrywood bridge around 12.10am on January 18, 2007.
He said he didn't know the car was stolen from its owner in Rialto, but noticed screwdrivers inside the vehicle and seized it from the four occupants, including Kenna in the driver's seat, the deceased and two females in the back.
Det Gda Treacy said Kenna told him he'd just bought the car and wasn't used to handling it.
The detective garda told Mr Ó Briain that he spotted the black Mitsubishi around an hour later speeding towards Cherrywood before it drove into a housing estate.
Det Gda Treacy said he and his colleague followed the stolen car into the estate where Kenna drove it at them, mounted the kerb and sped onto the N11 southbound towards Wicklow.
He said he called for assistance when he saw the Mitsubishi break two sets of red traffic lights on the N11 southbound before turning onto the N11 northbound and speeding up the M50 in wet and windy weather conditions.
Det Gda Treacy said the Mitsubishi wove through lanes and overtook civilian cars on the hard shoulder as it sped past the Dundrum exit where another garda patrol car was waiting to take up the chase.
He said Kenna tried to overtake this patrol car on the right hand side but swerved into the middle of the road and lost control of the vehicle, which skidded across the front of the garda car and flipped into a light pole.
He said civilian witnesses and the garda driving the patrol car estimated the Mitsubishi was travelling at 120m/p/h (190km/p/h).
Det Gda Treacy said Kenna, who has previous convictions for stealing cars and dangerous driving, admitted he took both cars using a screwdriver and was trying to escape garda pursuit by heading towards Loughlanstown in the Mitsubishi before he lost control of the vehicle outside the housing estate and turned onto the M50 instead.
He said Kenna acknowledged the accident was probably caused by his speeding in bad weather conditions and that he "felt bad" about his best friend.
Det Gda Treacy agreed with defence counsel, Mr Erwan Mill-Arden SC (with Ms Grainne O'Neill BL) that a garda technical expert examined the Mitsubishi and concluded that its rear tyres had been unfit for road use before the crash.
He further agreed that weather conditions on the night contributed to the accident.
Judge Patricia Ryan suspended the final year of the sentence for two years on strict conditions.