Car thief who drove into oncoming traffic on M50 during Garda chase is jailed

White often turned off the lights to avoid detection. A passenger had been filming the pursuit and posting it to Snapchat
Car thief who drove into oncoming traffic on M50 during Garda chase is jailed

Sonya McLean

A man who took part in two high-speed Garda chases, one of which involved ramming barriers at a level crossing when a train was due, has been jailed for three and half years.

Cian White (21) of Corduff Park, Corduff, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing a car in Northwood, Dublin 9 on June 26th, 2020.

He also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and endangerment by driving through train barriers while a train was imminent at Ashtown Level Crossing on the Navan Road, Dublin on the same date.

A passenger, a juvenile, in the car got out of it at one point during the chase and was arrested. He had been filming the pursuit and posting it to Snapchat.

White was on bail for this offence when he was the passenger in a stolen car on August 8th, 2021.

He pleaded guilty to allowing himself to be carried in a stolen car and being in possession of a vice grip on the date.

The court heard the vice grip was used to start the ignition of the engine as they did not have the car key.

Oncoming traffic

White has 74 previous convictions, including a large number for theft and dangerous driving type offences. He was disqualified from driving at the time.

The court heard at a previous sentence hearing that on June 26th, 2020, the owner of the car had parked his vehicle in the underground car park of his apartment complex that evening and took his keys with him.

At 10.25pm a garda in an unofficial patrol car spotted the car driving at speed and heading in the direction of Dublin Airport. He signalled the driver to pull over, but the driver ignored him and instead turned right and drove the wrong way around the next roundabout.

The driving continued in a dangerous manner with White continuing to drive around roundabouts the wrong way, veering onto the wrong side of the road and driving in the path of oncoming traffic.

White ultimately drove onto the M50 into oncoming traffic, before he performed a U-turn at the Finglas exit on the M50 and the garda lost sight of the vehicle.

Other gardaí were called in to track the movements of the car and it was eventually spotted driving along the back of Dublin Airport towards Finglas. Gardaí put up a road block in an attempt to alert other motorists and again the driver was instructed to stop the vehicle, but he failed to pull over.

Garda helicopter called

At one point during the chase, gardaí were able to pull up alongside the vehicle and identified the driver as Cian White.

The chase continued and a Garda helicopter was called in to assist. Again White drove dangerously on the wrong side of the road and into the path of oncoming traffic. White often turned off the lights to avoid detection and at one time drove directly at a marked garda car while the car’s lights were off.

White continued driving at speed, going so fast over speed bumps that sparks were spotted coming off the vehicle. White drove through a number of red lights causing other motorists to take evasive action to avoid a crash.

At the Ashtown Road level crossing, the red lights were on and the gates were closed. A Garda car pulled up alongside the vehicle and again Cian White was noted to be the driver. White rammed the level crossing gates, smashing them open and driving over the level crossing.

The passenger, a juvenile, got out of the car on the other side of the crossing and was arrested. He had been filming the chase and had posted it on Snapchat.

White stayed in the car and continued to drive at speed through a housing estate and on to other roads, again driving at speed and breaking red lights.

Vehicle abandoned

The vehicle was ultimately abandoned in Shangan Park in Ballymun. The court heard that €3,000 worth of damage had been caused to the vehicle.

Judge Melanie Greally said that the driving was prolonged and intensely dangerous to other road users but accepted that the damage was limited to the vehicle and “no harm came to any of the people exposed to danger”.

She imposed consecutive sentences totalling five years but suspended the final 18 months on strict conditions, including that he engage with alcohol and drug treatment for 18 months upon his release from prison. She also disqualified White from driving for six years.

Judge Greally said she had taken into account the fact that White was very young and had been easy to deal with after his arrest.

She noted from a probation report before the court that he had had expressed remorse and appreciate how “highly dangerous” his actions were.

Judge Greally accepted that White had a very difficult and troubled early life having spent “an extensive proportion of his youth” in foster care. He also had mental health difficulties.

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