By Isabel Hayes
A man who deliberately tried to knock down a garda before ramming two garda cars in the course of a prolonged, high-speed car pursuit has been jailed for five years.
Mark Taylor (31) had already been disqualified from driving for 25 years and was on bail for another driving-related offence when he engaged in the high-speed chase, which saw him repeatedly crossing onto the wrong side of the road.
Taylor, of no fixed abode in the Tallaght area, pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving, one count of endangerment, one count of criminal damage and one count of driving with no insurance in various locations in Dublin on December 9, 2019.
Sentencing Taylor at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Melanie Greally noted the “extreme nature of the risk to which road users were exposed” as a result of Taylor’s actions that night.
She handed down an eight-year sentence and suspended the final three years on a number of conditions. She banned Taylor from driving for life.
A detective garda told a sentence hearing earlier this year that he was on duty shortly after 10pm on the night in question when he noticed a black Mercedes stopped on Rossfield Avenue in Tallaght. It had the lights on and engine running.
Taylor was sitting in the driver seat with a female passenger. The car had been reported stolen four days earlier in Northern Ireland, the court heard.
The garda car stopped behind the Mercedes and when one of the gardaí walked towards the car, it reversed at speed and “attempted to run him over,” the court heard. The garda had to jump out of the way of the car to avoid being run over.
The garda stuck his baton in the driver seat window, causing it to smash. Taylor then rammed the front of the garda car before speeding off.
A pursuit ensued, with Taylor speeding over ramps and going over the wrong side of a roundabout at the Old Naas Road. He also drove the wrong way up a slip road and reached speeds at over 100km/h, the court heard.
Gardaí ended the pursuit as it was deemed too dangerous to continue, and the garda air support unit took over. Taylor drove towards the M50, where he collided with an unmarked garda car.
The total damage to both garda cars was €12,000, Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, told the court.
At one point, Taylor caused another vehicle to leave the road in order to avoid a collision, the court heard. The garda car pursuit resumed on the M50, with gardaí attempting to force the Mercedes against the concrete barriers to stop it. Sparks were coming from the car and it eventually braked in the hard shoulder.
Taylor ran up the embankment and was caught nearby. He was unable to be interviewed as he was so aggressive, the court heard. He has been in custody since then.
Taylor has 142 previous convictions, including 24 for dangerous driving. He had no driver’s licence and no insurance on the day in question.
Defence barrister, Justin McQuade BL, said Taylor came from a highly dysfunctional family. In a letter to the court, Taylor said he had been battling drug addiction for most of his life. “I need some help, guidance and structure to my life,” he wrote.
As part of the conditions of his suspended sentence, Judge Greally ordered Taylor to go straight into a drug rehabilitation programme upon his release and to complete this programme. She backdated the sentence to when Taylor first went into custody on these offences.