Eight-car chase to stop woman

A DUBLIN woman suffering from post-traumatic stress led eight patrol cars on a 60km chase along the motorway, in what a senior garda described as a “bizarre” incident for which there was no explanation.

A DUBLIN woman suffering from post-traumatic stress led eight patrol cars on a 60km chase along the motorway, in what a senior garda described as a “bizarre” incident for which there was no explanation.

Miriam Carroll, Apt 109, The Rectory, Enniskerry Road, Dublin, was charged with failure to stop for the gardaí and endangerment, on a stretch of motorway encompassing the Toll Plaza, Clonadacasey, Portlaoise, and Bushfield, Borris-in-Ossory, on March 14.

Inspector Tom Finnerty gave evidence that the defendant’s car was spotted driving erratically and the gardaí signalled her to stop. Carroll failed to stop and the gardaí followed.

At the toll plaza, her car slowed down and lurched from side to side, before it forced its way through the barrier causing slight damage. As the car continued on at over 140km/h, the pursuing patrol car requested back up. Carroll’s car swerved into the garda car’s path and “obscene gestures” were made by the driver.

Two garda cars attempted to slow the vehicle down, one in front and one behind, but this failed. A lorry appeared on the road, travelling parallel to one of the patrol cars, and Carroll tried to force her way between the lorry and the patrol car. The patrol car had to accelerate to prevent a “cataclysmic collision”, Inspector Finnerty said, and the lorry took evasive action.

At this point, there were eight patrol cars involved, with the chase lasting around half an hour and covering some 60km of road. When Carroll finally stopped, there was no indication of drink or drugs having been taken and no reason for the chase.

“It was quite bizarre,” said Insp Finnerty. “It was dangerous driving, at the least.”

Defence, Mr Colm Hennessy said his client and the other woman in the car were in a “heightened state of anguish” when stopped by gardaí, and they were “crying out addresses” to the guards. Mr Hennessy said his client is under the care of a psychiatrist and he admitted the case was highly unusual. Handing in a report to Judge Catherine Staines, Mr Hennessy said his client is currently involved in a separate investigation and there were issues central to her state of mind on the day, matters which he did not wish to go into in open court.

Judge Staines said it was an extremely serious matter and it was very fortunate that there was no loss of life. She praised the gardaí for the way they had handled the incident, which had prevented an accident occurring. However, after reading the report she accepted that there were “extraordinary mitigating factors” and she remarked that Carroll’s post-traumatic stress disorder had led to her bizarre behaviour. In those circumstances, Judge Staines said she would give Carroll an opportunity and she applied the probation act and fined her €300.