herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

Dying garda cried for parents as car rammed in chase

A DYING garda cried out for his girlfriend and parents as he was being rushed to hospital after his car was rammed by a notorious criminal, an inquest has heard.

Garda Gary McLoughlin (24) from Fenagh, Co Leitrim, died 24 hours after being injured in the crash on the main Letterkenny to Derry road in December 2009.

Drink driver Martin McDermott (25) from Raphoe in Co Donegal, was jailed for seven years last July after being found guilty by a jury of the manslaughter of Garda McLoughlin. He had 91 previous convictions.

At Garda McLoughlin's inquest yesterday, detectives told how McDermott had led them on a 30km chase on the N13, reaching speeds in excess of 150kph, in the early hours of December 13, 2009.

Garda McLoughlin was driving from Buncrana Garda Station with his colleague Garda Bernard McLaughlin to buy food for a meal break when they were informed that McDermott was driving towards Bridgend.

Detectives Noel Jones and Bernard Mullins were in pursuit of McDermott's Opel Astra after it had sped off from The Grove garage at Bridgend half an hour earlier before turning around and speeding back in the direction of the Border.

Garda Bernard McLaughlin, now based in Galway, told a jury of seven women and two men, that his colleague took the decision to travel slowly, partly on the hard shoulder, in the direction of Letterkenny.

Just seconds later McDermott drove at them on the wrong side of the road, ramming the marked garda car and ripping the engine out of it.

Garda McLaughlin said: "I saw a haze of lights and Gary said 'This is him'. I studied the car and realised instantly it was travelling towards us at phenomenal speed and I shouted that he was going to hit us. It was like a rocket.

"Gary pulled left hard into the ditch and if he hadn't it would have hit us straight on. I had a clear view of the vehicle coming towards us. It was not out of control.

"He [McDermott] did not make any avoidance manoeuvre -- it was three seconds from seeing the car until impact."

Garda McLaughlin said he thought his colleague was dead. He shouted to him several times and when his colleague awoke he began screaming in pain.

The scene, he said, was "what I'd imagined a bomb would look like". He travelled in the ambulance with Garda McLoughlin to Letterkenny General Hospital.

"I held his hand and he squeezed it. He was in a lot of pain and was calling for his mum and dad Noel and Una and his girlfriend Shauna," he said.

hnews@herald.ie

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