Garda terrified as she was dragged 80ft along road by car

May 22nd, 2023 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A DETECTIVE in West Cork has recalled a terrifying ordeal after she approached a car to intercept a drug deal – only for the driver to take off at speed with her hanging from the driver’s door, as she was dragged 80ft along the road.

Detective Garda Catherine McCarthy had her victim impact statement read into the record at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last week. Her account came at the sentencing hearing of Martin Keohane (34) of Derrygareen, Skibbereen, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious harm to Garda McCarthy in Creagh, Baltimore on April 8th 2021.

Det Garda McCarthy said that on the evening the offence occurred she was going about her duty as usual. When gardaí suspected that a drugs transaction was ongoing in a car on a remote road in Creagh, she approached the vehicle. She identified herself to the motorist (Keohane) and asked him three times to turn off his engine.

‘Without warning I heard tyres skidding on the gravel, and next I was travelling at his car window shouting and begging him to stop. What happened relatively quickly felt like an eternity,’ she said. ‘With my legs uncontrollably dragging along the road, the speed was getting faster. I thought I was going to get dragged underneath the car.

‘I had no way of preventing this from happening. I have never experienced such fear, and a foreboding feeling of “this is it. I am going to die.” I still cannot remember how I came off the car and ended up lying on the opposite side of the road, so far up from where I started.’

Det Garda McCarthy said that she could recall in vivid detail the back wheel of the car running over her ankle as she lay on the road. ‘He (Keohane) drove off. An overpowering surge of anger and gratitude came over me. Gratitude that I was alive. As I tried to get my bearings, I realised I was very near the bend of the road. If a car came around the corner, it would not expect me to be there and I would again be driven over.’

She said she began to panic. ‘I shouted at my colleagues for help and attempted to shuffle into the ditch as I could not stand. ‘I saw the shock on their faces [as] they came to my assistance.’

She said that the incident has had ‘broad ranging negative impacts’ on her home and professional life. She added that she has constant pain in her neck, mid and lower back, and is prohibited from playing sports or even sitting playing on the ground with her children for long periods of time.

‘Outwardly I appear healthy. Physically, I am constantly struggling to get through small tasks and needing relief from pain. I’m constantly wearing medicated pain patches, taking painkillers additionally and medications to elevate my mood/ PTSD/sleep.’

Det Sgt Michael Lyons told the court that at 7pm on the date of the offence, detectives from the West Cork divisional drugs squad were carrying out surveillance on a remote country road in Creagh, Balti- more where they suspected a drugs transaction was taking place.

He told Judge Helen Boyle that they observed a man carrying out a drugs transaction with Mr Keohane. The other man went to a nearby woods and was apprehended by gardaí.

Det Garda McCarthy approached the car driven by Keohane, identified herself, and shouted ‘Gardaí. Stop.’

Det Sgt Lyons said as Mr Keohane attempted to drive off, Det Garda McCarthy tried to take the keys out of the ignition. ‘Martin Keohane disregarded Det Garda McCarthys’s di- rection and accelerated away at reckless speed in the direction of Skibbereen.

He initially travelled to the opposite and incorrect side of the road where he avoided hitting a wall by swerving violently away from it at the last minute, while all the time Det Garda McCarthy was hanging from the driver’s door of the car.

‘I watched as Det Garda McCarthy was dragged for approximately 80ft as the car travelled at increasing speed until she was pushed by Martin Keohane from the moving vehicle.

‘I observed Martin Keohane’s vehicle driving over Det Garda McCarthy’s ankle.’

Dt Sgt Lyons said in his 30 years in the force he had never come across a more serious incident, during which a garda could have received fatal injuries.

Mr Keohane, a father-of-one, was arrested in the aftermath of the incident. He offered €2,500 in compensation to the impacted garda – which she respectfully declined.

Defence barrister Tom Creed said that his client was aware of the devastation he had caused the detective and had remorse for it. Mr Keohane had a problem with alcohol as a younger man and then ‘migrated to cannabis’. He is seeking help for his issues surrounding cannabis use, he said.

Det Sgt Lyons said that Keohane was not a ‘known dealer’ and mainly supplied to his friends. He had not come to garda attention since the incident.

Mr Keohane, who works at a ceilings company, apologised to Det Garda McCa- rthy. He said that he ‘deeply regretted the trauma’ he had caused her.

Judge Boyle paid tribute to Det Garda McCarthy, whom she described as being a ‘pioneering detective’ who was the first female member of the West Cork divisional drugs squad. She wished her well in her personal and professional life. Det Garda McCarthy has returned to her duties, the court heard.

Judge Boyle said that she needed to consider certain reports in the case. She remanded Mr Keohane in custody until his next court appearance.

Mr Keohane will be sentenced on that date, having pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious harm, obstructing a garda, and the unlawful possession of cannabis for the purpose of sale and supply.

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