Belfast Telegraph

Armagh man suspect in fatal crash 'on run for eight years' following alleged hit-and-run on same garda

By Robin Schiller, Ken Foy, Elaine Keogh and Kevin Doyle

The Armagh driver suspected of injuring a garda and killing an innocent man in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, was "wanted" in relation to another hit-and-run charge.

Gardai are investigating after father-of-two Stephen Marron (47) was killed when an out-of-control Audi A6 crashed into his stationary vehicle as he was parked on Main Street in Castleblayney at 11.23pm on Tuesday.

In a bizarre twist it emerged that the man arrested in relation to the incident was suspected of being involved in another car crash with the same garda in 2010.

A 34-year-old man from Co Armagh was last night being questioned in relation to the horror smash that killed local man Mr Marron and left Gda Michael Devlin (31) hospitalised with serious injuries.

The 34-year-old man is due to appear in court at 6pm this evening.

A bench warrant was in place for the arrest of the man since January 2011, when he failed to show up at a district court in Co Monaghan in relation to a terrifying incident that happened on November 20, 2010.

In the course of the hit-and-run eight years ago, Garda Devlin was injured when a car collided with his patrol vehicle at Latlorcan, Co Monaghan.

The driver then left the scene but was arrested nearby on suspicion of drink driving and driving without insurance. The suspect was charged and failed to appear in court on a second hearing.

Then on Tuesday night - eight years and one week after that incident - the suspect arrived in Castleblayney garda station on an unrelated issue.

He was recognised by Garda Devlin, who is not stationed there but based at Monaghan garda station. The suspect then left the station and the garda followed him.

When he tried to leave, Garda Devlin tried to stop the car but was dragged from the station to the Main Street around 500m away. One source said Garda Devlin was "hanging on for dear life".

The highly respected officer had only been in Castleblayney station because he had earlier been involved in investigating a separate drink driving incident.

"He would not normally be there but when he was, of course he recognised the suspect when this individual arrived in the station," a source told Independent.ie.

"It was the same man who was charged with reckless driving over eight years ago."

Video footage obtained by the Irish Independent shows the Audi car driving onto the Main Street at 11.21pm.

As the car turns onto the street, the driver side door swings open, but closes before the car starts veering towards the Blue Skoda Octavia. The Audi appears to pick up speed right before impact with Mr Marron's car, smashing into the rear.

Mr Marron's Skoda crashes into a pole and is turned 90 degrees while the Audi continues for several more metres before coming to a stop.

As two Garda cars respond to the scene, the 34-year-old driver steps out of the car and puts his hand into his pocket, before raising his arms.

Garda Devlin can be seen staggering from the passenger side of the car, and collapses before being helped by a passer-by.

The woman - who has not been identified - has since come forward to gardai following an appeal.

A garda spokesman confirmed on Thursday lunchtime that she made contact.

Earlier this morning, Superintendent Fergus Treanor praised the woman and said he was "anxious" to speak to her.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One, he said: "From what I can see from the footage is she acted very bravely because I think she believed the car was on fire.

"There certainly was a lot of smoke coming from it and her efforts to assist Garda Devlin are very much in my thoughts at the moment.

"She obviously involved herself in some danger and we are very anxious to speak to her."

The events which led to the death of Mr Marron have been described as “an outrageous and tragic set of circumstances” by Tanaiste Simon Coveney.

The Dail has been promised that a full investigation into his death will involve both gardai and the PSNI if necessary.

Fianna Fail’s deputy leader Dara Calleary said today that the situation was “horrendously tragic”.

He said CCTV footage of the crash was “like something from the movies”.

He questioned how the suspect could be on-the-run for eight years in relation to another offence for eight years.

Mr Coveney said Mr Marron was in everybody’s “thoughts and prayers” and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan had requested a full report on the case.

“I want to recognise the courage and bravery of a gardai who is in a critical condition today. We hope he will make a full and speedy recovery,” he said.

The Tanaiste said that there has never been better co-operation between An Garda Siochana and the PSNI in relation to cases such as this.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Marron, who has been remembered as a "loving, devoted husband and father"

Mr Marron was in his car because he worked as a delivery driver for a local takeaway.

Mr Marron was an assistant sacristan at St Mary’s Church in Castleblayney and St Patrick’s Church, Oram. He was described in a statement from the parish as “a devoted member of the wider Castleblayney community, particularly through sports organisations.

Above all, Stephen was a loving and devoted husband and father, a son, brother, and a good friend to many”.

Canon Shane McCaughey, said: “Stephen was the go-to man for everyone in the community of Muckno parish.

Stephen bore witness to his faith through the generosity and kindness that he showed to all who were in any kind of need.”

Brendan Tavey, who owns a business on Main Street, said, “The town is very, very shocked at this. He was just a local man doing his job. He is married with two children and his family are decent and respectable people.”

Kevin Mullen, whose CCTV captured the crash, said, “I was talking to him and his wee girl yesterday down in Lidl. I met him at the till. We spoke and he was joking about different bits and pieces.”

Councillor Aidan Campbell said: “I want to pay tribute to him and sympathise with his family. The whole town is in shock, it is just numb.”

The Main Street remained sealed-off yesterday to facilitate Garda forensic and Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission examinations.

The GRA representative for Cavan/Monaghan, James Morrisroe said: "We wish our injured colleague a speedy recovery from his injuries.

"Our thoughts and prayers are also with the family of the deceased."

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements for Mr Marron have been confirmed. Mr Marron's remains will repose in his home in Castleblayney from 6pm to 10pm today and also from noon to 9pm tomorrow.

His removal will take place to Saint Mary's Church in the town at 10.20am on Saturday for requiem mass at 11am.

Irish Independent

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