A former member of two groups, Anti-Corruption Taskforce and Integrity Ireland, has been jailed for a hit-and-run of a garda sergeant. As he was being led away from the court on Wednesday last, December 20, he called Judge Melanie Greally ‘a political puppet’ and said he planned to ‘continue my fight against this corrupt court all the way to Europe’.
After a trial last October, Joseph Doocey (51), with an address at Knoxbarret, Ballina, was convicted of endangerment, dangerous driving and assault of Sergeant Declan Casey causing him harm. Mr Doocey denied these and other charges, all of which related to an incident near Font Cross, Ballina, on June 8, 2015.
‘Reckless in the extreme’
The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that on that date Doocey did not stop at a Garda checkpoint. He instead shunted his car forward, hitting Sgt Casey on the legs and then drove the car up on the footpath, forcing a garda to jump out of the way.
He drove off at speed but got caught in traffic. Sgt Casey caught up with him on foot and asked him to get out of the car. Doocey refused to stop and instead reversed, knocking Casey to the ground and driving over his foot, before ramming into a van several times.
He then turned car at speed and exposed Sgt Casey to serious injury as he was still on the roadway, the court heard.
Judge Melanie Greally said she was satisfied that Doocey’s primary motivation was to flee and he didn’t set out to injure Sgt Casey. But she said his conduct was reckless in the extreme and exposed Sgt Casey to more serious injury if not death.
In a victim impact statement, Sgt Casey said he had been ‘branded a liar’ and that his ‘character and good name were attacked’ in a Doocey-led social-media campaign that had caused great distress, anxiety and stress to himself and his family.
He said his wife had been ‘very distressed’ by ‘twisted, distorted and nasty’ comments which had included suggestions to protest outside his children’s school.
“My character and my family were plastered all over social media,” he said, through “disgraceful and disgusting lies told about me by Joe Doocey.”
Sgt Casey said while his knee had healed from the injuries he sustained in the hit-and-run, he experienced daily flashbacks of the ‘shock, fear, pain’ he had felt, as well as ‘the sensation of a car running over you and having to scramble out of the way’.
He said his knee ligament was torn causing ‘excruciating pain’ and requiring surgery, which left him unable to work for nine months.
Doocey had pleaded not guilty to charges of endangerment, assault causing harm, dangerous driving, failure to report the injury of Sgt Casey, criminal damage, failing to stop, failing to give information, leaving the scene and driving without valid motor tax. Last October a jury unanimously found him guilty on all counts against him following a nine-day trial.
Doocey told the court that gardaí had been running a ‘campaign of harassment/intimidation’ against him for 16 or 17 years. “The more I try to address it, the more intense the campaign by the gardaí becomes,” he said, claiming that he had been beaten up by gardaí on occasion and brought to court and framed.
Doocey shouted in court that he was ‘an innocent man’ and that evidence had been ‘planted’.
The court heard that Doocey has a number of previous convictions, including harassment via a hoax phone call and text messages in 2001, which Doocey said were currently under appeal. Other convictions include criminal damage, obstruction of a peace officer and threatening behaviour in a public place.
Full sentence imposed
Sentencing Doocey, Judge Greally said the most serious offences in this case were those of criminal damage, assault causing harm to Sgt Casey and endangerment.
She said she was giving him credit for his good employment record, his positive relationship with his elderly father, his ‘exemplary behaviour’ in prison, and the absence of any serious previous convictions.
She imposed a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence. She initially suspended the final year on condition that Doocey enter a bond not to post online about the investigating gardaí, the judiciary and the lawyers involved in his case, and their families. The bond also required that the defendant give an undertaking not to contact any member of the gardaí involved in the prosecution of his case, and to stay away from the homes and workplaces of the aforementioned people and their families.
Doocey refused to sign this bond, and Judge Greally imposed the full term of the sentence.
Judge Greally had previously adjourned the sentence after she ascertained from defence counsel that Doocey would be willing to desist from his ‘campaign of hostility’ against Sgt Casey, his family, friends and colleagues as a condition of his sentencing.
Absence of remorse
The judge also imposed a two-year prison sentence for assault causing harm, and a five-month sentence for dangerous driving, with all sentences to run concurrently. She disqualified Doocey from driving for a period of five years.
Judge Greally said the aggravating factors in this case were the defendant’s absence of remorse, his attempt to damage Sgt Casey’s reputation, and the potential harm to other road users during the incident.
She referred to the fact the defendant had made ‘allegations of extreme impropriety’ against gardaí both during his trial and on social media.
“It important to stress that the jury, by their verdict, have rejected this evidence, and gardaí have been vindicated in the most transparent manner possible,” she said.