Killer driver asks for his van back

A Co Cork man, who was jailed for eight years last month for killing a young man through his aggressive driving under the influence of drink and cocaine, returned to court yesterday looking for his van back, writes Liam Heylin.

Donal O’Sullivan, a prosecution barrister, said the State was applying for the seized van to be forfeited.

The accused appeared in court yesterday to object to that forfeiture application.

Martin Linehan, from Coachford, had fled the country after killing young Frenchman Gabriel Lege by driving over him at a pedestrian crossing.

Some time later, Linehan was tracked down to a building site in London and was brought back to Cork for the case.

Yesterday, his barrister, Peter O’Flynn BL, said: “He opposes the application. He wants to dispose of it himself.”

The barrister also said that Linehan wanted the matter adjourned for a week so that he could deal with it then.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “I refuse to adjourn. This is nothing but a delaying tactic. It was properly seized, it was lawfully seized, I make the forfeiture order to the state.”

As Linehan was being taken back into custody, he mouthed the word “appeal” to Mr O’Flynn.

In last month’s sentencing hearing, evidence was given that gardaí got an anonymous tip in July that Linehan was working on a building site in London.

He was subsequently arrested on a European arrest warrant and brought back to Cork.

Detective Garda Anne O’Flynn charged him with multiple counts, principally one of dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Lege at George’s Quay on October 31, 2013.

He pleaded guilty and had been sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

At the time, Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “The 25-year-old French man was lawfully crossing a pedestrian crossing with the green light in his favour when the accused broke a red light and drove in a somewhat aggressive manner and collided with the pedestrian, whom he must have seen.

“After, in what is a seriously aggravating factor, he did not stop.

“The vehicle front and back rolled over the deceased. The person in the passenger seat asked him to stop. He certainly did not stop.

“His behaviour then and after is entirely the behaviour of a person who had only one consideration — himself.

“The manner in which he left the scene is chilling to the point of frightening, that he could have so much disregard for another human being.”

The judge had also referred to Linehan’s callous decision-making in taking a circuitous route of the country and as a foot passenger by ferry from Antrim to Larne in Scotland, later jumping bail for another offence in the UK and travelling to South Africa and Dubai and back to England.

The judge said Linehan was motivated by the self-preservation that was with him from the night of the fatal incident, and said that the callous regard for the deceased was aggravated by staying out of the country for so long.

This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner.


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