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Man jailed for hijacking taxi and injuring garda during high-speed chase

Tony Ward has received a partially suspended sentence.

A FATHER-OF-three who hijacked a taxi and led gardaí on a high-speed chase during which one officer was knocked down and injured has received a partially suspended sentence.

Tony Ward (40) of Castlecurragh Park, Mulhuddart, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to endangerment, dangerous driving, assault causing harm and the unlawful seizure of a vehicle at locations between Dublin city centre and Finglas on 29 August 2017.

Judge Karen O’Connor sentenced Ward to three and a half years imprisonment, but suspended the final 21 months on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for 21 months and that he follow the directions of the probation service for 12 months post-release.

Judge O’Connor said he should receive credit for any time he has spent in custody on this matter. She also disqualified him from driving for a period of two years.

The incident

Garda Sarah-Jane Connolly told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that Ward and another man flagged down a taxi at 2.45am and asked to be taken to Ballymun.

A few minutes into the journey, Ward said he felt unwell and asked the driver to stop, the court heard.

While the defendant was standing outside the car the driver noticed he was wearing blue rubber gloves and became worried, Garda Connolly said.

After Ward got back into the taxi he pulled the driver’s seat belt back and pinned him to his seat. He then began swinging at him, brandishing a knife with a four-inch blade.

The men ordered the taxi driver out of the car and threatened to stab him, the court heard.

Garda Connolly said the driver managed to get his vehicle into gear and deliberately drove into the path of an oncoming car, causing it to stop.

When the driver got out of the taxi, Ward followed him and began slashing at him with the knife again, nicking one of his fingers.

A scuffle ensued and one of the men grabbed the keys from the driver and the taxi drove off at high speed.

After hearing reports of a stolen taxi on the radio, a patrol car driven by Garda Keith Spackman spotted it travelling in the direction of Finglas at speeds of 160 km/h and began to pursue it, the court heard.

Garda Connolly said at Mellowes Crescent in Finglas the taxi rammed two garda cars, before striking Garda Ciaran Garry, propelling him backwards.

The injured garda hit the side of one of the vehicles, leaving him with “a large hole” in his left arm. Blood was gushing from his wound and he later received 30 stitches to three open wounds on his forearm.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, said his client was disgusted at his actions and could not remember the incident as he had been drinking and taking cocaine that evening.

“It is a remarkable set of events for a man who has no previous convictions,” Bowman said.

Counsel said that Ward was aware things could have ended very differently, and the crimes were in stark isolation to the manner in which he had lived the rest of his life.

Victim impact statement

In a victim impact statement which was read out in court, Garda Garry said he never thought he would come so close to “being impaled between two cars”.

Garda Garry said the incident left him with a lot of anger and a heightened need to protect his family. He said he was informed by doctors that he could have lost his arm and said he had been unable to work.

He said the most frightening thing was how close he came to not going back to his family. He said that he had ongoing issues with his shoulder and neck and that surgery had been required to close his wounds.

Garda Garry said the thing that struck him most was the “complete lack of empathy” and the disregard shown for another person’s life.

Judge O’Connor said the aggravating factors in the case were the violent seizure of the taxi, the risk to road users and gardaí, the damage of over €30,000 to the cars and the impact on the victims.

She said the mitigating factors in the case were his guilty plea, his admissions to gardaí, his genuine remorse, his previous good character and his impressive employment record.

Sarah-Jane Murphy & Brion Hoban
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