(File image) The driving rampage lasted for forty minutes. Alamy Stock Photo

Man who endangered his family while driving at high speed on motorway jailed for three years

Over €20,000 in damage was caused to garda cars during the offence.

A FATHER OF six who endangered the lives of his wife and children when he drove at high speed down a motorway ramming garda cars and injuring four gardaí has been jailed for three years.

The 35-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, previously pleaded guilty to 13 offences which arose from an incident in Cork on 28 September, 2022.

The offences included false imprisonment, endangerment, driving breaches and breaching a protection order.

Detective Inspector Danny Coholan gave an outline of the case at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. Coholan said that the driving rampage lasted for forty minutes.

The man drove from North Cork to Cork city and on to Ringaskiddy and then went back to the city. Over €20,000 in damage was caused to garda cars during the offence.

Judge Colin Daly heard that the woman had a protection order against the man at the time the offence occurred. She had left the family home a few weeks before the driving incident occurred.

The man had spent less than a week in a residential psychiatric unit just before he carried out the crime.

He took cocaine prior to engaging in the dangerous driving down the motorway and was also on prescription medication.

The court heard that the man took over his wife’s van when she and their children were in it. Coholan said that the man drove down the M8 motorway in a dangerous fashion.

Other motorists who were concerned about his driving raised the alarm with gardaí.

Passing motorists said that they could see the children crying for help. Coholan said that at one point during the rampage the side door of the van opened.

It was feared that the children, who were not wearing seat belts, would be thrown or fall out of the car.

The man threw a children’s car seat on to the motorway and a five month baby was left without any restraint or protection in the speeding vehicle.

The garda said at one point a child in the van could be seen “with her hands clasped in prayer imploring the guards to help her.”

Gardaí tried to block the man at the Dunkettle Roundabout. However, he rammed a garda car and went through the Jack Lynch Tunnel on to the N40 South Ring Road before travelling to Ringaskiddy.

Gardaí then blocked a roundabout at Shanballymore. where the man then rammed another garda car and went back in the direction of Cork city.

His rampage ground to a halt when gardaí used a stinger which stopped the van on Carr’s Hill on the N28.

The man tried to switch seats in the van with his wife in order to place blame on her. The woman made a statement to gardaí on the night the crime occurred which she subsequently withdrew.

She gave evidence on behalf of the defence in court. She indicated that she was in shock when she made the garda statement.

She told the court: “I said a lot of words I shouldn’t have said in shock. He was a big loss to me bringing the children to school.

“What happened, happened but he wasn’t in his right state of mind. He needs help. I want him home to us.

“My little girl had a very bad tummy ache (on the night). He was bringing her to Cork to hospital. He came out of the mental home that day himself.

“He is a very good father to his children, a very good husband to me. We would like to see him come home. He wasn’t in the right state of mind that day,” she added.

Judge Colin Daly said that it was a very grave offence.

“Particularly aggravating factors were that children were present – very young children, unconstrained. His wife and children were held prisoner in the van to the most dangerous extent.”

Judge Daly said that mitigating factors included the guilty plea, the mental history of the man and the evidence from the defendant’s wife that he had been a good father and husband.

He also acknowledged that the man had expressed remorse to both his family and members of An Garda Síochána.

Judge Daly jailed the man for four years suspending the last year of the sentence. He also disqualified the man from driving for ten years.

He also commended the gardaí involved for the bravery they showed in bringing the rampage to a halt.

Olivia Kelleher