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Garda dragged down city centre street at 40mph

A garda who was dragged the length of Bachelor's Walk by a driver who refused to stop his car feared for his life during the ordeal.

Garda sources say their colleague Stephen Kelly, stationed at Store Street in the city centre, repeatedly told driver Thomas Ward to stop as he mounted the pavement and dragged him along the road at speeds of up to 40mph.

Ward (33) of Riverview, Ashgrove, Mountmellick, Laois, was jailed for two and half years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The court heard Ward was ordered to stop his Honda Integra on Bachelor's Walk on October 14 last year when gardai spotted him driving in a bus lane.

He refused to do so and gardai Dean Keogh and Steven Kelly followed him on foot.

Ward got caught in traffic and turned the car engine off when the two gardai approached.

But as Garda Kelly was checking Ward's tax and insurance discs, he started the engine and tried to drive off.

Garda Keogh was almost pinned against a truck that had been stopped in traffic but managed to get out of the way.

Garda Kelly was caught between the open driver's door and the car as Ward drove off.

"He was dragged the whole length of Bachelor's Walk by the car, Garda Kelly was forced to try and run along with the car but kept stumbling," a garda source told the Herald.

"He was afraid that if he fell he would be hit by traffic at the busy O'Connell Street junction, and he was shouting at the driver to stop the car, but the driver was pushing him away as he drove."

"It had started as an ordinary enough situation where a car was being stopped for a bus lane infringement, but it quickly developed into a situation where Garda Kelly feared for his life," the source said.

Ward continued to drive, breaking two red lights as he turned on to Eden Quay with Garda Kelly still hanging on to the car. Garda Kelly then managed to take the keys from the ignition and Ward was immediately arrested.







Hospital

Ward later stated in interview that he had been in "a state of confusion" and had "not meant to hurt anyone". Garda Kelly was treated in hospital and was out of work for a month.

Ward pleaded guilty to endangerment of both gardai Keogh and Kelly. He has 60 previous convictions which included theft, public order and criminal damage. Judge Martin Nolan said what Ward had done was "extremely dangerous" and added that he was "quite fortunate" that more serious charges had not followed.

A spokesman for the Garda Representatives' Association would not comment on the length of the sentence Ward received but said the case marked another vicious assault, "not only on Garda Kelly, but on the wider democratic community in general".

"Garda Kelly was wearing a uniform and stepping into the firing line between violent offenders and the public," said the GRA spokesman.

"Assaults on gardai are increasing all the time. Last year there were 800 recorded assaults on members of the force, an increase on 720 the year before."

cfeehan@herald.ie