SIX PEOPLE’S LIVES were affected by a teenage car thief whose joyriding devastated a Dublin community, a court has heard.
One of them, a priest, was seriously injured and left unable perform his parish duties after the teenager, who was on bail, ploughed into him, Dublin Children’s Court was told.
The six people, aged from four to 57, live in the same area in north Dublin had been affected by the 17-year-old boy’s four motor thefts, which involved high-speed pursuits, collisions, children being traumatised, a grieving widow having to give evidence and cars written off.
The uninsured teenager had been on bail for three of the offences, the court heard. He has pleaded guilty to theft of a ’03-reg car and dangerous driving in connection with the incident at Blanchardstown Road North on 8 November last.
Garda Brian Masterson said a woman’s Honda car was stolen in Hartstown in Dublin 15.
Just after 11.30pm, gardai on patrol saw the stolen car being driven at speed by the accused on the N3 in Dublin. It was alleged the teenager broke red lights and collided with a Volkswagen Golf driven by Fr Liam McClarey, 57, of Corduff Parochial House.
Garda Masterson said the youth “ran from the car but was arrested close by” while Fr McClarey was taken to hospital. The court heard he suffered broken ankles and a hairline fracture to his knee. He spent six weeks in hospital and is still not fully recovered.
Fr McClarey provided the court with a victim impact statement which the judge read in court. In the statement the priest explained that has been unable to officiate at weddings and funerals or visit the sick at Christmas or prepare school children for confirmation. He said he still cannot carry out his duties and is unable to play golf or visit his family who live 150 miles away.
Judge O’Connor said it was a very moving impact statement and a community had been devastated. He said he was also thinking of the other people who had suffered as a result of the boy’s behaviour and it was lucky they were not killed.
The court heard that the teenager had family members involved in crime but as of yet he has not criminal convictions. The teenager, who was accompanied to court by his mother, was warned he is facing the strong possibility of a custodial sentence and was remanded on bail to appear again in April.
The teenager has complied with increased support from youth workers helping him abide by his bail terms. The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, recently got onto an educational course and tests have shown that he has stayed off drugs.
He is facing sentencing for four dangerous car thefts. In one of the cases, he was found guilty of theft of a grieving widow’s car in July last year. The woman said the theft of the car, which was not recovered, meant she suffered a loss of liberty and had to rely on family members for lifts. She had to give evidence earlier on the last day her daughter was in Ireland before returning to Australia.
He entered guilty pleas to hit-and-run and driving without insurance or a licence charges arising out of other incidents on 23 February last year. The court heard he had driving a scrambler motorbike on a public road in Corduff and while over-taking a Volkswagen car he collided head on with a Toyota Avensis.
The car he hit was driven by a mother who had her husband and their two young children, aged four and 11, on board. Garda Brian Masterson said no one was injured but the two car owners only had third party insurance policies and are not covered for their written off cars.
The children had been traumatised, the court was also told.
The teen admitted stealing a car in the early hours of 17 March last year and six counts of dangerous driving as well as not having a licence or motor insurance.
Garda Canice Phelan has told the court gardai spotted two cars travelling on the wrong side of the road at the Littlepace roundabout in Clonee.
Gardai took up pursuit at which the two cars split up. The court heard the boy was driving a ’02-reg Honda Xtreme and drove at speed through another roundabout on the wrong side. He sped through a red light forcing a taxi to take “evasive action”.
The teenager reached the N2 and crossed several lanes “without regard for other road users” said Gda Phelan, adding that the teenager did that several times.
The boy nearly lost control of the Honda while he drove along a M50 slip road and when he crossed the motorway drivers had to take evasive action.
The court heard that as he reached the M50 toll bridge he was “boxed in” and stopped.
The teenager initially resisted arrest but then became compliant and was handcuffed before he was taken to Blanchardstown Garda station.
Garda Phelan said that the owner of the hot-wired car was not aware it had been stolen. An updated probation report on the youth has been ordered.