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Man jailed after stealing car from garage forecourt with teenager in the backseat

Sean Dowdall has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years for car theft and false imprisonment.

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
Image: Wikicommons

A TEENAGER HAD to jump out of a moving car onto a busy road when the vehicle was stolen from a garage forecourt while she was in the back seat.

Sean Dowdall, 22, stole the car from a petrol station on the quays in Dublin city centre after he saw the driver, Susan Maguire, go into the shop to pay for fuel. After he got in he turned around and saw her daughter Ciara Maguire, 18, in the back seat before he drove off.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Dowdall was on a “binge” at the time because he had found out the child his girlfriend was expecting might not be his. He was disqualified from driving at the time.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a two-and-a-half year sentence for car theft and false imprisonment. He said Dowdall could have exited the car as soon as he realised someone was in the back but he didn’t.

The judge warned Dowdall, who has 55 previous convictions, that he was going to spend more time in prison if he kept offending.

“I’m looking at him, he has signs of intelligence, he knows what he has to do. If he continues offending, the sentences will only get longer,” Judge Nolan said.

Dowdall of Rutland Grove, Dublin 12 pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and car theft at Esso on Ushers Quay on February 11, 2016.

Garda John Alton told Seamus Clarke BL, prosecuting, that the Maguires were returning home from visiting friends when they stopped to get petrol. When the mother went in to pay Dowdall got into the driver’s seat.

Ciara Maguire asked him what he was doing before trying to signal to other people for help as Dowdall drove off.

She struggled to get her seatbelt off and open the door. When she fell onto the road a taxi had to swerve to avoid hitting her. Dowdall sped off and the car was recovered a short time later. He had taken it to Ballyfermot to sell it to repay a debt, he later told gardaí.

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He was arrested when he went to a garda station to turn himself in for a separate offence. Gardaí recognised his clothes in the CCTV footage from the petrol station.

Dowdall admitted taking the car but said he didn’t know the girl was in the back seat. He said he was driving slowly when she jumped out.

Ciara Maguire had just finished her mock Leaving Certificate at the time. She suffered cuts and bruises and still wakes up from nightmares about the incident according to a victim impact report.

Defence counsel Oisin Clarke BL said his client had addictions to drink, drugs and gambling and had a tendency to go on “binges.”

He said the incident lasted no more than a few seconds and that Dowdall would have jumped from the car if the girl hadn’t done so first.

Read: Woman awarded €55,000 damages after slipping on yoghurt in Tesco

Also: Actor left permanently scarred after being slashed by teen in ecstasy row

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Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher

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