A former Garda Detective has been accused of reaching excessive speeds during a pursuit which ended in the death of a young Donegal Garda.

Garda Gary McLoughlin was killed when another car crashed into the Garda car he was driving in near Burt on December 13th 2009.

Garda McLoughlin, 24, died the day after the crash from his injuries.

The driver of the car, Martin McDermott, 25, is charged with the manslaughter of Garda McLoughlin which he denies.

He admits a number of charges including drink-driving, driving without insurance and also dangerous driving causing the death of Garda McLoughlin.

The court heard that McDermott was spotted by Gardai exiting The Grove petrol station at high speed in the Bridgend area close to the border.

He was then followed for over 31 kilometres by an unmarked Garda patrol car for up to 15 minutes to Newtowncunningham and back towards Derry.

The car was being driven by retired Garda Detective Noel Jones who revealed McDermott had reached speeds of up to 170 kph during the chase on a very frosty night.

During the trial at Letterkenny Circuit Court, defense barrister Peter Finlay, SC, accused Det Garda Jones of breaking the Garda Code of Conduct in reaching excessive speeds in pursuit of McDermott.

He said Gardai had no reason to pursue McDermott for 31 kms for up to 15 minutes as he had had no evidence McDermott had committed any offence.

Mr Finlay quoted from the Garda Code of Conduct which said “a chase at speed is only justified where it is really important to arrest.”

The Defence barrister asked if there was evidence that McDermott of Castlegrove, Raphoe had robbed a bank, a petrol station or a shop and was told there was not.

Former Det Garda Jones said he had been a Garda since 1977 and had been placed along the border investigating subversive activity since 1981.

“My driving was controlled at all times. I made a call and I stand by that call,” said former Det Garda Jones.

Det Garda Jones said he eventually lost sight of the red Opel Astra car but came upon it two minutes later after it had crashed.

The court heard the chase ended when the red Opel Astra car being driven by McDermott hit the marked Garda patrol car being driven by Garda McLoughlin at Lisfannon.

Garda McLoughlin was trapped in the car, the driver’s doors had been ripped off and the dashboard was pressed down on him.

The driver of the other car was found in a semi-conscious state and a car engine was sitting across the road from him with smoke coming from it.

Garda McLoughlin, who was originally from Fenagh in Co Leitrim, died the following day in hospital from his injuries.

The late Garda McLoughlin’s parents Noel and Una were in court as was his brother Enda and sister Tracey.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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