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Closing stages reached in trial of two occupants of a car accused of assaulting garda

The jury today heard closing speeches from prosecution and defence counsel.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

CLOSING STAGES HAVE been reached in the trial of two occupants of a car accused of assaulting a garda who was hanging out of the passenger window as the vehicle reversed at speed. 

Garda Conor Murray has told the trial of Jonathan Coelho (29), the driver, and Federico Carvalho (31), who was a passenger in the car, that the two men repeatedly struck him as he struggled to prevent himself being thrown out of the car. 

Coelho of Duleek, Co Meath and Carvalho of Blessington Street, Dublin have pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to charges of assault causing harm to Garda Murray on 31 July, 2019 at St Lukes’ Avenue, Dublin 8.

Coelho has pleaded guilty to a number of charges of dangerous driving. He admits driving at speed through red lights and in the wrong direction along busy streets in Dublin city centre before crashing into a lamp post.

He denies a charge of endangerment by dragging Garda Murray in through the passenger window.

The jury today heard closing speeches from prosecution and defence counsel. The jurors will be charged by Judge Melanie Greally on Monday morning before retiring to consider a verdict.

The jury has heard the car was stopped at red lights when a garda car flashed its lights. The car then broke the red lights and during a high speed chase drove dangerously around the city streets before crashing into a lamp post.

In his interview Coelho said that he didn’t stop the car for gardaí because he had no insurance.

Garda Murray said he was pulling the passenger from the car when the driver started the car again and began reversing. He said he had to run along the side of the car to prevent being dragged under the car.

“The passenger and driver pulled me half way in to the vehicle,” he said. His upper body was inside the car and the passenger put his head in a head lock, Garda Murray said.

Garda Murray told the jury that while hanging half way out of the moving car he managed to pull up the handbrake and slow the vehicle. He said Carvalho then opened his door and both men tried to throw the gardaí from the vehicle.

He said he managed to wrestle himself away from the passenger and the passenger exited the car.

Garda Murray said the driver began repeatedly kicking him as he held on to the door frame. 

He said the driver gave him a final kick struck his face and he was thrown from the car.

In his interview Carvalho, who was getting a lift home, said that he repeatedly told the driver to stop the car. He said he was terrified and was holding on. He said when the car crashed a garda used a baton to break the passenger window before jumping in through the window.

He said the garda was struggling with the driver. He denied hitting the garda and said he would never hurt anybody.

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In her closing speech Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, told the jury that Garda Murray was a reliable truthful and honest witness whose evidence did not change under cross examination. 

She suggested to the jury that the evidence of the gardaí and the CCTV footage established all ingredients of the offences and both men were guilty of the charges. 

Keith Spencer BL, defending Coelho, said it was not possible, physically or mechanically, that his client could have taken his foot from the clutch and executed a sideways kick to Garda Murray’s face that led to him falling from the car, while keeping the other foot on the accelerator.

He said his client’s stated intention was to flee and it made no sense that he would pull a garda into the car. He said it was quite clear Garda Murray had “propelled” himself into the car with the intention of making an arrest. 

Oisin Clarke BL, defending Carvalho, said his client had a “very very bad night” thinking he was getting a lift home with Coelho, whom he had met one week earlier and had been “an innocent participant in something that had gone horribly wrong”. 

He said there had been “a couple of seconds of utter commotion” before Carvalho got out of the car at the first opportunity without assaulting the garda.

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Fiona Ferguson and Declan Brennan

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