Men jailed for three years in Garda Robbie McCallion case

Full details of the way Garda Robbie McCallion received injuries while checking a stolen car report and from which he later died were related for the first time at Letterkenny Circuit Court today.

They were spelled out during sentencing of Cathal Dunleavy, 21, who was on temporary release at the time from prison.

He was jailed today for three years for stealing the car, a 1994 Toyota Corolla, when Gda McCallion was investigating its theft on March 26, 2009.

Sgt Martin Finnan said Gda McCallion drove a patrol car with two other gardai, Joanne Doherty and Shane Lavelle, to Tara Court, Letterkenny, in response to a neighbour’s phone call at 4.33 a.m. that she saw two men interfering with a car outside a nearby house.

Sgt Finnan said all gardai were out of their vehicle, after speaking to Dunleavy, and were trying to escape for their own safety when another car, driven by the other youth, veered towards their patrol car.

Sgt Finnan told Judge John O’Hagan that the other car, a 1998 Peugeot, struck the front of the patrol car, mounted a footpath and side-swiped a garden wall.

Sg Finnan said it became airborne and the under carriage could clearly be seen by Garda Doherty. During these moments Garda McCallion was struck by the Peugeot and he ended up going over the garden wall. He ended up in the garden. He died in hospital on April 7th, 2009, from injuries that he received.

Sgt Finnan said the 19-year-old Peugeot driver last week admitted driving  dangerously and causing the death of 29-year-old Gda McCallion at Tara Court Letterkenny, on March 26 last year, but denied manslaughter and he was in custody awaiting trial.

Cathal Dunleavy, of Meentagh, Glenvar, Kerrykeel, was in court today for sentence after admitting stealing a 1994 car, a Toyota Corolla On March 26 last year without the consent of the owner Sonia O’Brien at Tara Court.

The court heard it was to be towed by the Peugeot from the theft scene. When gardai, who had already spoken to Dunleavy, were out of the patrol car the other youth drove towards it and injured Gda McCallion.

Dunleavy was on temporary release from prison and should have returned on the afternoon of March 26 last year. He was already banned from driving for 15 years.

Judge John O’Hagan said he accepted Dunleavy’s “genuine remorse” but added that he went along with the other man on a “systematic, cool, calculated” car theft. And what happened was right before his very eyes but he denied ever having been at the scene.

Judge O’Hagan said the only charge against Dunleavy was the theft of a car not involved in the other incidents on the same occasion and it would be wrong for him to “take revenge” on matters which would be dealt with another day.

The maximum penalty he could impose on Dunleavy was five years and a €10,000 fine for the car theft. He was giving him three years for pleading guilty.