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Friday 18 August 2017

'Sinead was not meant to be in death car tailed by gardai', says grieving Mother

Lillian Maguire, mother of Sinead Maguire, who died from neck, chest and abdominal injuries
Lillian Maguire, mother of Sinead Maguire, who died from neck, chest and abdominal injuries

The heartbroken mother of a woman killed when a car being pursued by gardai crashed in Fairview described it as a tragic twist of fate that she was in the vehicle that night.

Sinead Maguire (43), of Bayview Avenue, Dublin 3, died when the car she was travelling in hit a pole at the junction of Malahide Road and Clontarf Road at 1.52am on May 29, 2014.

An inquest into her death this week heard that a garda patrol car was travelling 9.5 seconds behind the car which crashed at high speed.

Speaking yesterday, Sinead's mother Lillian said her daughter had intended to walk home that night before agreeing to take a lift.

"She didn't know the driver or the front seat passenger. She only knew one of their girlfriends who was in the back," Mrs Maguire said.

Chasing

"Sinead walked everywhere, she hated cars, but when they were passing in the car and saw her walking with her shoes in her hand because they were pinching her she agreed to a lift home. Within minutes, the car crashed."

Mrs Maguire said there was some vindication in hearing details of the patrol car being so close emerge at the inquest as the gardai had claimed they were 35 to 40 seconds behind the car.

Garda James Newman was driving the marked squad car, a Ford Focus. He said he was about 35 to 40 seconds behind the Toyota Avensis, in which Ms Maguire was a back seat passenger. He denied they were chasing the car.

The family's legal representative, David Langwallner, asked Gda Newham if he was chasing the car, but he replied that he wasn't close enough to be chasing it.

Gda Terry Moore was in the passenger seat of the patrol car. He said he lost sight of the Avensis before it crashed.

"We were never close enough to be involved in a chase," Gda Moore said.

Asked if they were following the car, he said: "Yes, we were attempting to stop it."

Forensic collision investigator Sergeant Edward Davin said the driver of the Avensis attempted to take a right turn at the junction of Malahide Road and Fairview at excessive speed. The speed on impact was 82kmh. Gardai were travelling 9.5 seconds behind the car 160m north of the crash site, according to CCTV footage.

Ms Maguire was not wearing a seatbelt and died from neck, chest and abdominal injuries as a result of the collision.

The driver of the car, Eric Wansboro, is serving an eight-year sentence for dangerous driving causing death.

Neither he nor front seat passenger Ian McDonagh have any recollection of the crash.

"If the gardai had said from the start that they were so close to the car it would have been upsetting for us but we could have dealt with it," Mrs Maguire told the Herald.

"But they insisted they were further away from day one, and it was lies and hiding until the CCTV showed the truth.

"The crash is not all their fault but I believe there is a contributory factor from the gardai."

Mrs Maguire, who has Parkinson's disease, described her daughter as a lovely child who promised to look after her.

"She lived here with me and she told me that when the time came and I got older she wouldn't let anyone touch me, that she would look after me," she said.

"I told her she should go and live her own life, but I took comfort and reassurance in what she said."

Mrs Maguire said she felt vindicated by the outcome of the inquest.

Investigated

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigated the incident and sent a file to the DPP.

No prosecution was directed and no disciplinary action was taken in relation to the case.

But Sinead's family said the GSOC had made a recommendation to the DPP's office on the matter, but then used court privilege as a reason for not disclosing what that recommendation was.

"We would like to know what GSOC had recommended," said Sinead's brother Paul.

The jury at Dublin Coroner's Court returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

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