Chase man sentenced to 12 years

A man who was involved in a dangerous high speed chase through Dublin city centre and less than a week later pointed a gun at gardaí while resisting arrest in a residential area has been given a 12-year sentence.

A man who was involved in a dangerous high speed chase through Dublin city centre and less than a week later pointed a gun at gardaí while resisting arrest in a residential area has been given a 12-year sentence.

Neil Fitzgerald (aged 28) was pursued by gardaí after he was observed by officers at a checkpoint speeding on the wrong side of the road. Five days later he pointed a gun at a garda who was attempting to arrest him.

Fitzgerald, of Dufferin Avenue, South Circular Road, pleaded guilty to possession of a semiautomatic pistol, ammunition and producing a firearm while resisting arrest at Dolphins Barn on July 23, 2008. He also pleaded guilty to driving a stolen car at Braithwicks St and five counts of dangerous driving on July 18, 2008.

Judge Frank O'Donnell said the description from gardaí of Fitzgerald's driving was amongst the most alarming he had ever had ever heard and said a crash at the speed he was travelling would have been "catastrophic."

He said the gardaí had to be supported and they could not know at the time if the gun would work or not.

He imposed consecutive sentences totalling 12 years and suspended the final two years. He ordered that Fitzgerald be banned from driving for 10 years.

Garda Steven Murray told Mr Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that he observed Fitzgerald driving dangerously near the checkpoint which was set up on Tyrconnell Rd on July 18, 2008 at 4.15am.

He said Fitzgerald reached speeds of 160mph in the stolen car which he drove from Tyrconnell road to Braithwaite St.

Gda Murray said Fitzgerald exited the car at Braithwaite complex and was found hidden in bushes on Summer St. He told gardaí: "I wasn't driving the car."

On July 23, Fitzgerald was pursued on foot by gardaí after he was observed walking around Dolphins Barn with a handgun and ammunition.

Fitzgerald took the gun from under his clothing and pointed it at gardaí. Fitzgerald then ran underneath Dolphin's Barn Bridge and tried to hide in the undergrowth but slipped and let go of the gun. When arrested Fitzgerald was also found to be wearing a bullet-proof vest.

The incident took place less than two months after Fitzgerald, who has 77 previous convictions, had been released from prison.

Defence counsel, Mr Padraig Dwyer SC (with Mr Breffni Gordon BL), said Fitzgerald had the gun and was wearing the bullet-proof vest as he had "debts to repay" and was "in fear of his life".

Mr Dwyer added that Fitzgerald had spent most of his 20s in prison and was now "institutionalised". He went on to say that he had no contact with his family and had little or no employment history.

He also said that it was "a sad indictment of society that there is so little to say about him in a positive light".

Mr Dwyer said Fitzgerald was very sorry for his actions and for being a danger to the public.

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