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Sunday 20 January 2019

Robbie's last act of bravery was to save my life -- garda

A GARDA who was thrown 12 feet into the air when he was struck by a car fleeing a crime scene, shouted at a colleague to save herself.

Brave Garda Robbie McCallion (29) bounced off the windscreen and was thrown into the air before landing in the front garden of a nearby house, a court has heard.

Garda McCallion died at Beaumont hospital on April 7, 2009, almost two weeks after he was injured while investigating reports of a stolen car in Tara Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal.

In a final act of courage, he had shouted at a female colleague to run to safety, seconds after he was struck by the car.

At Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday, Jamie McGrenaghan, Gortnatraw, Kerrykeel, County Donegal denied the manslaughter of the garda. He has pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of the garda and to stealing a car on the same date.



SUSPICIOUS

Two garda colleagues, who were on duty with Garda McCallion on the night, outlined how they had responded to a report at 4.30am on the morning of March 26 of suspicious activity involving a car at Tara Court, a housing estate, two kilometres from the town centre.

Garda Joanne Doherty was a front seat passenger in the car being driven by Garda McCallion. A third garda, Shane Lavelle, was in the back seat.

They observed a youth crouching in front of a white Toyota Corolla that had a rope attached to the front bumper. Behind it was a wine-coloured Peugeot with its lights on and the engine running.

All three gardai exited the patrol car to investigate further when the Peugeot car began revving at high speed and reversing away from the scene, further into the estate. The gardai got back in the patrol car and positioned it to block the Peugeot from leaving the scene. They saw it stop and rev loudly before it came towards the patrol car at speed.

"The wheels were spinning and you could hear the screeching coming towards us. It was coming straight for the patrol car. It was coming towards my door," said Garda Doherty.

"Garda McCallion told me to run. I jumped out of the patrol car," she told the trial.

She said that the car veered off to the left at the last second and she heard a loud bang before it became airborne. Garda Lavelle gave chase to the driver as he attempted to flee the scene on foot. When he returned, Garda Lavelle told her that Garda McCallion was behind a wall that had been knocked down by the car.

"He was unconscious and his breathing was very laboured. There was blood coming from his mouth. He was moving his head," she said. McGrenaghan and a second youth, Cathal Dunleavy (21), were arrested.

hnews@herald.ie

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