The bodies of three men who were killed when their vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with a truck on the N7 in Dublin last year had to be identified using DNA samples from relatives, an inquest has heard.
he men were being pursued by gardaí when the collision happened.
The three men – Dean Maguire (29), Karl Freeman (26) and Graham Taylor (31), all from Tallaght in Dublin – died when their BMW vehicle burst into flames following a high-speed crash between Citywest and Baldonnell on July 7, 2021 while they were driving on the wrong side of the N7.
A former scientist attached to Forensic Science Ireland, John Hoade, told a sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court that he was able to match DNA samples taken from one of the parents of each of the deceased with blood samples taken from the men’s bodie
Mr Hoade estimated the chance of Mr Taylor not being related to the DNA profile provided by his mother, Brenda Taylor Freeman, as one in seven million.
The forensic scientist said the chances of similar findings being made in relation to Mr Maguire and Mr Freeman were one in 90,000 and 100,000 respectively.
A senior investigating officer with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), Louise Woods, told the inquest that significant progress had been made in GSOC’s investigation of the deaths of the three men.
Ms Woods sought and was granted a six-month adjournment of the case in relation to Mr Freeman’s death.
However, following subsequent objections by solicitor Michael Finucane, representing Mr Maguire’s family, coroner Clare Keane agreed to adjourn the inquest for a three-month period in relation to all three cases.
Asked why GSOC was not seeking a shorter adjournment, Ms Woods said six months was required as GSOC did not have the same resources as An Garda Síochána.
Ms Woods informed the court that GSOC had only received a report on the fatal crash from Garda forensic collision investigators last month.
Questioned by Mr Finucane, Ms Woods said GSOC had received numerous statements from Garda witnesses but could not say how many. She confirmed statements had also been received from civilian witnesses.
The inquest heard that GSOC had also gathered CCTV footage and images from taxi dashcams, which Ms Woods said were “significant”.
The GSOC investigator said she could not recall if images from social media formed part of the investigation but agreed with Mr Finucane that it would be surprising if they did not form a line of inquiry in the case.
Questioned repeatedly about the length of the investigation and the need for a further six-month adjournment, Ms Woods stressed GSOC had limited resources and the investigation had generated “a large file”.
“We cannot progress it any faster,” she added.
Mr Finucane said the need for a further lengthy adjournment was “excessive” as there was a legal imperative “fuelled by the European Convention on Human Rights” for such cases to be dealt with promptly.
“I don’t think 13 months [since the deaths] comes into anyone’s definition of prompt,” he remarked.
Ms Woods said she would be submitting the completed file to the GSOC commissioners with the likely recommendation that it be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
With the consent of GSOC, Dr Keane adjourned the inquest to October 25 to allow for an update on the progress of the investigation.
Solicitors representing the relatives of Mr Taylor and Mr Maguire also objected to the issuing of a death certificate proposed by the coroner.
Cian McCann, representing Mr Taylor’s family, said it was not appropriate to issue a death certificate at this stage as details of medical evidence should be saved until the full inquest.
Dr Keane said the purpose behind issuing a death certificate at a preliminary hearing of an inquest was for “the ease” of the relatives of the deceased.
However, Mr McCann claimed his client would not be put at ease by such a move.
The men’s deaths generated a major controversy last summer over the conduct of mourners at the requiem mass and burial of Mr Maguire.
The funeral at St Mary’s Priory church in Tallaght garnered international headlines after a screwdriver and torch – tools associated with burglars – were brought to the altar as offertory gifts, while many attendees ignored attempts by local priests to limit the numbers in church and to get the congregation to observe social distancing and mask-wearing. as part of Covid-19 restrictions.
One woman who delivered a eulogy said Mr Maguire would not be forgotten before adding: “Sorry for the language, Father – rest in peace, you f***ing legend.”
A poster brought to the church read: “RIP Dean – You know the score, get on the floor, don’t be funny, give me the money.”
Fr Donal Roche, who oversaw the requiem ceremony and threatened to halt proceedings at one stage if greater respect was not shown in church, subsequently described it as the “most disturbing” funeral he had ever attended.
A funeral cortege featured motorcyclists doing wheelies and burnouts in a high-speed convoy, while Mr Maguire’s associates also carried out dangerous manoeuvres on public roads around Crumlin and other parts of the city in the days following his death.
All three men, who had a combined total of over 200 convictions, were known to gardaí and were believed to be key figures in a burglary gang that was linked to “Fat” Andy Connors – a crime gang leader who was shot dead outside his home in Saggart, Co Dublin in August 2014.