A Cork woman called out for help from armed gardaí as she feared for the lives of herself and her six children after her partner allegedly rammed six garda cars leading to the hospitalisation of two officers during a "rampage".
At a bail hearing, Cork District Court was told the man became very volatile and violent when he was being arrested and that the woman and her children are now in secure accommodation.
Garda Paul Dromey told the court: “Should he be granted bail I believe he would commit further serious offences and there is the possibility of interference with witnesses. His partner is in fear of him — she is in extreme fear of him. Six children — aged between five months and 10 years — with the mother were all extremely traumatised.”
The 35-year-old accused cannot be identified for legal reasons. His unsuccessful application for bail was made after the court was cleared for an in-camera hearing as one of the charges relates to the alleged breach of a protection order during the alleged ‘rampage’ of driving.
As a result of information received by gardaí after 9pm on Wednesday, units from Cork city including the Armed Response Unit (ARU) went to Mahon Point and saw the van in which the woman and six young children were passengers, travelling on the dual-carriageway. It exited to Mahon Point shopping centre.
The driver failed to stop despite the ARU's blue lights and siren.
“In the front passenger seat, a woman appeared to be struggling and calling for help holding an infant in her arms," Garda Dromey told the court. "The vehicle rammed the Armed Support Unit car.
“Gardaí tried to extricate the male driver but he rammed the Armed Support Unit again. The van proceeded at speed to the slip road, going the wrong way down the slip road. Two other garda vehicles tried to stop it but the van rammed these two vehicles as well."
The van was driven towards Ringaskiddy but turned back at Shanbally towards Cork city going the wrong way around a roundabout against oncoming traffic.
It was only with the use of a stinger vehicle-disabling device that that van was eventually stopped at Carr’s Hill, after ramming a total of six garda vehicles during what Garda Dromey described as a rampage.
He said six garda units were damaged and two members of the force were taken to hospital.
“He violently resisted arrest. He put his life at risk, the lives of members of his family at risk and the lives of gardaí and members of the public at risk. There is a serious fear he will intimidate his wife and children if given bail.”
Frank Buttimer solicitor said: “There is a presumption in favour of bail constitutionally. This case will involve a particularly significant level of garda activity to get the case from the chargeable level to bringing it to the DPP. And during all that time your application would be to keep the accused in custody.”
Garda Dromey replied, “I believe this man will commit further serious offences if given bail.”
Mr Buttimer said he was not calling the accused to give evidence in furtherance of the bail application. However, he said that if refused bail the accused could find himself in custody for the period of a lengthy garda investigation, possibly going into several months.
Sergeant Pat Lyons said: “A full incident room has been set up and a full team of detectives assigned. This matter is getting the utmost attention… Two gardaí end up in hospital, a number of garda cars were rammed — it doesn’t get much more serious than this."
Judge Colm Roberts said: “I have considered all matters. I am fully satisfied to refuse bail in the circumstances based on the seriousness of the offence and the likely sentence which could occur, possible interference with witnesses and the belief that the accused as allegedly caught red-handed.” The accused did not give any evidence and he replied, “No comment”, to each of the nine charges against him when first charged.
The charges against him included three counts of dangerous driving, three counts of causing criminal damage to garda cars, false imprisonment and refusing to give a sample at the Bridewell garda station that was required in relation to suspected drink driving. Finally, he is accused of breaching a protection order by putting his partner in fear that she and the children would be killed by the accused.
Judge Colm Roberts remanded the accused in custody until October 6.