herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Burglary gang in fatal M7 pile-up bought car for €100

Northbound Road Accident on M7 outside Kildare Town, Kildare.
Northbound Road Accident on M7 outside Kildare Town, Kildare.
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These are the images that show the gang involved in a drunken nationwide crime spree which resulted in an innocent woman's death.

The Herald can reveal that the thugs bought their getaway car for €100 this week, one of the gang is aged just 12 years old and three of the thugs are currently on bail for offences linked to a string of robberies and burglaries.

Diana Harton (43) - originally from Tallaght - was killed when her car was smashed into by a vehicle being pursued by gardai in the high-speed chase on the M7 motorway on Thursday night.

The Traveller gang bought the 1996 registered Volkswagen Polo for €100 in Meath on Wednesday - 24 hours before engaging in a nationwide crime spree.

Pursuing gardai were attempting to get the raiders to pull over when the car ploughed into Ms Harton's Citroen Zara.

Beer bottles were recovered from the wreckage of the 18-year-old car and were also left at the scene of shop robbery in Newport, Co Tipperary, earlier in the day.

Ms Harton, with an address at Claregate Street, Kildare, had been shopping before she drove from the slip road at Kildare onto the motorway where the culprits rear-ended her car. Her vehicle then careered into a patrol car and she died at the scene.

The crime spree that started in Trim, Co Meath, at lunchtime on Thursday continued for more than 400km as the gang made their way to the Tipperary village of Newport. After committing several thefts in Trim, they left a petrol station in Newport without paying for €65 of fuel at 6.30pm.

In a second incident, they stole €40 worth of goods - including packets of socks - from a nearby service station where they dumped more empty beer bottles.

The Traveller criminals are well known to gardai.

The suspects are aged between 12 and 23 and at least three of them are related to each other. They have addresses in north Dublin. The 1996 Volkswagen was bought in Meath before the gang went on a nationwide crime spree. Sources have revealed that around €100 was paid for the car. They also stole €1,500 worth of tools from a vehicle in the townland of Ballymackeogh, which is located along the Tipperary/Limerick county boundary. By the time the five-man gang fled Tipperary towards Dublin at high speed, gardai had been alerted and patrol cars were called out to stop the vehicle.

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Gardai spotted the Volkswagen at the toll plaza near Portlaoise after it was observed tailgating another car through the toll barrier.

A high-speed chase then began on the northbound carriageway of the M7 with three patrol cars from the Laois/Offaly Garda division in pursuit.

Gardai contacted colleagues in Kildare for support as the chase continued along the M7 before the carnage unfolded at the J13 turn-off at 8.45pm.

Paramedics were alerted as emergency services attempted to stop oncoming traffic from driving into the scene.

Four units of Kildare Fire Brigade travelled from Newbridge and Monasterevin and fire crews worked to cut the trapped victims from the wreckage. A fleet of ambulances took the seven injured, including two gardai, to hospitals in Naas and Tallaght.

The officers were later released without serious injury but they and their colleagues are said to be extremely traumatised by what they observed during the collision.

hnews@herald.ie

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