A detective in West Cork has recalled being dragged by a car after she intercepted a drug deal.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Detective Garda Catherine McCarthy was dragged 80 feet, hanging from the driver's door, after the driver of the car took off at speed.
Det Gda McCarthy fell to the ground when the motorist eventually pushed her off, the court heard.
Her victim impact statement was read into the record on Friday at the sentencing hearing of Martin Keohane (34), of Derrygareen, Skibbereen, Co Cork.
Keohane pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious harm to Det Gda McCarthy in Creagh, Baltimore, Co Cork on April 8th, 2021.
Dt Garda McCarthy said she was going about her duty as usual on the day in question, when gardaí suspected a drug transaction was ongoing in a car on a remote road in Creagh. Dt Garda McCarthy approached the vehicle and identified herself to the motorist. Keohane, asking him three times to turn off the car.
“Without warning, I heard tyres skidding on the gravel and next I was travelling at his car window shouting and begging him to stop. What happened relatively quickly felt like an eternity.
“With my legs uncontrollably dragging along the road, the speed was getting faster, and I thought I was going to get dragged underneath the car.
“I had no way of preventing this from happening. I have never experienced such fear, helping and foreboding feeling of ‘this is it I am going to die,” she told the court.
“I still cannot remember how I came off the car and ended up lying on the opposite side of the road so far up from where I started.”
Det Garda McCarthy said that she could recall in vivid detail the back wheel of the car running over her ankle as she lay on the road.
“He (Keohane) drove off. An overpowering surge of anger and gratitude came over me. Gratitude that I was alive. As I tried to get my bearings, I realised I was very near the bend of the road and if a car came around the corner it would not expect me to be there, and I would again be driven over.
“I began to panic, shouted at my colleagues for help and attempted to shuffle in to the ditch as I could not stand. I saw the shock on their faces. They came to my assistance.”
Det Gda McCarthy said the incident has had “broad ranging negative impacts” on her home and professional life, explaining she has constant pain in her neck, mid and lower back, and is prohibited from playing sports or even sitting playing on the ground with her children for long periods of time.
“Outwardly I appear healthy. Physically I am constantly struggling to get through small task and needing relief from pain. I’m constantly wearing medicated pain patches, taking painkillers additionally and medications to elevate my mood/PTSD/sleep.”
Detective Sergeant Michael Lyons told the court that at 7pm on the date of the offence, officers from the West Cork Divisional Drugs Squad were carrying out surveillance on a remote country road in Creagh, Baltimore, where they suspected a drug transaction was taking place.
He told Judge Helen Boyle they observed a man carrying out a drug transaction with Keohane. The other man went to a nearby wood and was apprehended by gardaí.
He said Det Gda McCarthy approached the car driven by Keohane, identified herself and shouted: “Gardaí Stop.” He added the accused drove off as Det Gda McCarthy attempted to take the keys out of the ignition.
“Martin Keohane disregarded Det Gda McCarthy's direction and accelerated away at reckless speed in the direction of Skibbereen.
"He initially travelled to the opposite and incorrect side of the road where he avoided hitting a wall by swerving violently away from it at the last minute, while all the time Det Gda McCarthy was hanging from the driver’s door of the car,” Det Sgt Lyons said.
“I watched as Det Garda McCarthy was dragged for approximately 80 feet as the car travelled in increasing speed until she was pushed by Martin Keohane from the moving vehicle. I observed Martin Keohane’s vehicle driving over Det Garda McCarthy’s ankle.”
He added that in his 30 years in the force, he had never come across a more serious incident during which a garda “could have received fatal injuries”.
Father-of-one Keohane was arrested following the incident and offered €2,500 as compensation to Det Gda McCarthy, which she declined.
Defence barrister Tom Creed SC, said his client was aware of the devastation he had caused Det Gda McCarthy and had expressed remorse for his actions.
He added Keohane had a problem with alcohol as a younger man and then “migrated to cannabis”. He noted he is now seeking help for his issues surrounding cannabis use.
Det Sgt Lyons said Keohane was not a “known dealer” and mainly supplied drugs to his friends, adding he has not come to Garda attention since the incident.
Keohane, who works at a ceilings company, apologised to Det Gda McCarthy, stating he “deeply regretted the trauma” he caused.
Judge Boyle paid tribute to Det Garda McCarthy, whom she described as being a “pioneering detective” who was the first female member of the West Cork Divisional Drugs Squad, wishing her well in her personal and professional life. The court heard Det Gda McCarthy has returned to her duties.
Judge Boyle said she needed to consider certain reports in the case, remanding Mr Keohane in custody until his next court appearance on May 18th when he will be sentenced.