01 Jul 2022

Drug addict who hijacked a car from a man who had just dropped his child off at creche jailed

Drug addict who hijacked a car from a man who had just dropped his child off at creche jailed

A drug addict who hijacked a car from a man who had just dropped his child off at creche has been jailed for two and a half years.

Thomas McDonnell was in a drug-induced psychosis when he threw himself over the bonnet of the injured party's car, told the driver to get out or he would kill him before hijacking the vehicle, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.

Because the driver had the car key in his possession, the car was only able to go a short distance before it stopped and McDonnell fled the scene, Garda Stephen O'Shea told the court.

Gardaí were alerted to the incident from a number of people who reported a man was trying to flag down their cars. McDonnell was arrested a short time later.

McDonnell (43) with an address at St Marks Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of hijacking at Belgard Square, Tallaght on January 4, 2019. He has six previous convictions for drug-related offences.

In a victim impact statement handed into court, the victim, who was not present for the sentence hearing, said he had just dropped his daughter off at creche and driven 100 yards up the road when McDonnell flagged him down, causing him to brake suddenly.

McDonnell “threw himself across the bonnet”, the victim said, before he demanded the driver get out of the car.

The driver said he was extremely glad his daughter was not still in the car with him at the time. He described feeling disorientated during the incident and recalled his pregnant wife arriving at the scene and being physically sick.

The car was returned undamaged but the owner sold it as a result of the incident.

The court heard that McDonnell had attended Tallaght hospital the night before for mental health issues prior to the incident and had just been released. He had had a row with his girlfriend and wanted to return to his native Tipperary, the court heard.

Handing down sentence, Judge Melanie Greally said McDonnell was “in a drug induced psychosis” at the time. “He wanted a car to drive to Tipperary and he terrorised this person who had just dropped their child off at creche and whose wife was pregnant”.

The judge noted the incident was “short-lived” and that the car was returned undamaged to the owner. She also noted McDonnell had been given lenient sentences in the past which had not motivated him to address his drug addiction.

She handed down a sentence of four years, but suspended the final 18 months on a number of conditions.

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