The jury in the trial of a Kerrykeel man charged with the manslaughter of tragic Garda Robbie McCallion will decide today if he is innocent or guilty.

Jamie McGrenaghan, 19, has admitted dangerous driving causing the death of the Letterkenny-based Garda on April 7th, 2009 but has denied the charge of manslaughter.

For the past two days a jury or twelve men and women have heard evidence about the night which led to the horrific chain of events.

After bieng given direction by Judge John O’Hagan later this morning, they must then decide if McGrenaghan is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

Yesterday McGrenaghan of Gortnathraw, Cashel, Kerrykeel claimed he never meant to dleiberately hit Garda McCallion.

He said on the night Gardai tried to block his exit from Tara Court he spotted a gap when Gardai tried to block his escape route and “went for it.”

McGrenaghan, 19, struck Garda McCallion, 29, in the early hours of March 26th, 2009, after he and another man had stolen a car at Tara Court on the outskirts of the town.

The Garda, a talented footballer who played with his native Mayo, died in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin a few days later on April 7th.

McGrenaghan’s defence team argued that Mr.McGrenaghan panicked on the night of the tragedy and was merely trying to escape.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard how McGrenaghan and friend Cathal Dunleavy had been drinking in several pubs in the Fanad and Kerrykeel areas before driving to Letterkenny.

They went to see a car which was for sale at Tara Court but while there spotted another car, a white Toyota Corolla, which Dunleavy decided to steal.

The men returned later at 4am in McGrenaghan’s Peugeot car and took the Totota Corolla car.

However as they tried to leave the housing estate, they were met by three Gardai.

The Gardai noticed the door of the Corolla car was damaged and went to block the road.

McGrenaghan, who was behind the Corolla in his own car, immediately reversed back up the road and began revving is engine.

He then drove at the patrol car but veered to the left hitting the patrol car, the Corrola and sent Garda McCallion through the air and into a nearby garden.

He tried to run away but was caught by Garda Shane Lavelle.

After being arrested McGrenaghan admitted he had run down Garda McCallion but said he did not mean it.

He initially denied remembering hitting Garda McCallion at all but later admitted he did.

“I was panicking away and went to left hand side to get past,” he claimed.

He said he was very sorry after later hearing that Garda McCallion had been seriously injured as a result.

“I’m sorry for what happened to the officers and I hope he recovers quickly,” he said.

He also claimed he was drunk but it was later shown that when he was tested, he was not over the limit.

Mr Alex Owens, for the prosecution, said the Gardai had to run for their lives when McGrenaghan was approaching them.

“You (the jury) have to ask yourselves if he was driving at them to escape. They feared for their lives. You have to decide how dangerous that was.

“He was using the car as a missile. It may have only been going 30 mph but all the evidence is that it was accelerating.

“This is a car that hit a wall and demolished a fair lump of it and that gives you an indication of force flown into the direction of the Gardai,” he said.

However barrister for the defence Mr.Denis Vaughan-Buckley said the fact that the victim was a Garda should not sway the jury.

He also claimed that McGrenaghan was led by Cathal Dunleavy who had 45 previous convictions including burglary, drink-driving, assault and escaping from custody.

“Manslaughter is a different and serious matter. It means gross negligence – it is very, very serious. Is unusual to have a charge of manslaughter along with dangerous diving causing death.

“If he wasn’t a Garda would there be a charge of manslaughter? That’s a matter for you. But you might think it’s being heavy-handed.

“The evidence you have heard does not amount to gross negligence and so not guilty of manslaughter,” he said.

State Pathologist Marie Cassidy carried out a post mortem on Garda McCallion and said the cause of death was as a result of a head injury due to vehicular impact.

The late Garda McCallion’s family were in court including his father and mother Bob and Nancy as well as his brother John, sisters Deidre and Noirin and girlfriend Marie O’Donnell.

A number of the tragic Garda’s colleagues including Superintendent Vincent O’Brien and Sgt.Christy Gallagan were also in court.

Ends

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