Jury fail to reach verdict against man accused of manslaughter of Garda McCallion

A jury has failed to find a verdict against a man accused of the manslaughter of a young Garda.

The jury could not agree if Jamie McGrenaghan was guilty of the manslaughter of Garda Robbie McCallion in Letterkenny, Co Donegal on March 26th, 2009.

McGrenaghan, 19, was driving a car which knocked down Garda McCallion at Tara Court in Letterkenny leaving him with serious head injuries.

He had been along with another man and had stolen a car only to be trapped in a cul-de-sac by Gardai.

Garda McCallion, 29, from Co Mayo, was thrown up to 15ft into the air when McCallion hit him with his car and threw him into a garden while trying to escape.

He later died at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on April 6th.

However a twelve member jury at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday could not fully agree if McGrenaghan was guilty of the manslaughter of Garda McCallion.

The jury retired at 2.14pm and returned with a verdict just before 4pm.

The seven man and five woman jury did however find the accused guilty of wreckless endangerment of Garda McCallion’s colleagues Joanne Doherty and Shane Lavelle after he drove towards them in his red Peugeot car.

However it asked for more time to consider the more serious charge of manslaughter after informing Judge John O’Hagan that they could not reach a decision.

Shortly after 4.30pm, the jury again returned to say it simply could not agree on a decision of manslaughter.

The jury was sent home and Barrister for the State, Alex Owens, SC, said he will tell the judge on Monday next if they want to proceed with a retrial or not.

McGrenaghan of Gortnatra, Kerrykeel, will be sentenced next month after being found guilty to the wreckless endangerment charge.

McGrenaghan, wearing a black suit and white shirt, has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

Earlier in the day prosecution barrister Owens said McGrenaghan had a case to answer on the manslaughter charge.

“He reversed back, screeched his wheels and drove at high speed in the direction of the Gardai.

“He drove this car like a missile and propelled it towards the Gardai. The case of manslaughter is very much a real one which he must answer,” he said.

However defence barrister, Denis Vaughan Buckley, SC, said he could not see how the jury could find his client guilty of manslaughter.

He said the State were “going for overkill” in seeking a charge of manslaughter against McGrenaghan.

“The bottom line was that he spotted a gap between the cars and a wall and tried to escape through it. It all happened in a split second,” he said.

Before sending out the jury, Judge John O’Hagan said jurors should remove it from their minds that Robbie McCallion was a member of An Garda Siochana and to make their decision in a “cold and calculated manner”.

The trial has last three days and was attended by the late Garda McCallion’s family including his father and mother, Bob and Nancy, sisters Deirdre and Noreen and brother John.

A number of leading Gardai including Donegal Divisional Commander, Chief Supt. Terry McGinn and Inspector Vincent O’Brien were also there.