Former crime gang leader fined after Garda pursuit across Donegal

June 17, 2024

A former leader of the notorious McCarthy-Dundon gang in Limerick led gardai on a high-speed pursuit through back roads in Donegal with his lights off.

Larry McCarthy was before Letterkenny District Court on charges relating to an incident in Letterkenny on December 15, 2023.

McCarthy is currently serving a six-and-a-half year prison sentence in Portlaoise Prison for providing a getaway car that was used in the attempted murder of a rival gangster.

McCarthy, a 46-year-old with an address in Manorcunningham, County Donegal, appeared at Letterkenny District Court via video link from prison. McCarthy was charged with two counts of dangerous driving.

A plea to a lesser charge of careless driving was accepted by the court on a full facts basis.

Sergeant Jim Collins told the court that gardai followed a grey Volkswagen Passat at 3.55am on the date in question at Lower Main Street, Letterkenny, after the communications room at Letterkenny Garda Station was alerted.

McCarthy veered over a continuous white line past a graveyard on the outskirts of town.

Gardai activated the blue lights, but McCarthy continued at speeds in excess of 100km/h on a narrow road governed by a speed limit of 80km/h.

The court heard that McCarthy turned the lights off on his car, went over two speed bumps in the townland of Scribbly before going through a crossroads at Drumnahoe.

Gardai initially lost sight of the car, but he was subsequently stopped and arrested. When tested at Letterkenny Garda Station, McCarthy was under the limit for alcohol and was described as being “cooperative”.

Sergeant Collins said the State was satisfied, in light of the plea and the fact that McCarthy is serving a sentence, to accept a plea to careless driving.

Solicitor for McCarthy, Mr Rory O’Brien, told the court that his client has ‘thrown off any shackles of criminality’ since moving to Donegal.

Mr O’Brien said the infamous gang figure has been engaged in “excellent work” in his new community.

‘Red’ Larry was a leading figure in the gang until his incarceration in the UK in 2005.

“The conviction on which he is spending time (in prison) is going back a number of years and he is doing that sentence,” Mr O’Brien said. “In the meantime, he has made a life for himself and his family in Donegal and he has complied with all directions.

“He is serving a sentence and on release will continue the excellent work in the community. He has linked with a number of voluntary agencies who have assisted him. He has thrown off any shackles of criminality, which were a feature of his past.

“He is working for the betterment of himself and his family.”

Mr O’Brien said McCarthy is due for release in 2026 and will require a driving licence when he goes free “as he is to reside in the countryside”.

Mr O’Brien said McCarthy has had a “very significant” history, which is now “antiquated” and he urged the court to give McCarthy credit for his plea.

Judge Éiteáin Cunningham convicted McCarthy of dangerous driving and fined him €300.

Legal aid was granted to Mr O’Brien.

Earlier this year, the Special Criminal Court was told that McCarthy provided a getaway car for the attempted murder of notorious Limerick gangster Christy Keane.

In March, he was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison when he appeared at the three-judge court.

His barrister, Brian McCartney, told the Special Criminal Court that McCarthy had a “Damascus Road experience” since relocating to Donegal.

McCarthy was sentenced for what Ms Justice Caroline Biggs said was the “procurement and placement” of a getaway car during the course of an “infamous” feud between crime gangs – the McCarthy-Dundons and the Keane-Collopys – in the attempted murder of veteran Limerick criminal Keane in June 2015.

In July 2005, McCarthy received an 11-year sentence from Southwark Court in the UK for possession of a MAC-11 “military armament” gun.

The McCarthy-Dundon and Keane-Collopy organised crime gangs have been involved in a feud that dates back to 1993.

There have been 19 murders and 15 attempted murders in the feud.