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25 Jun 2022

Three sentenced in connection to violent hit and run incident at carpark in the Midlands

Three sentenced in connection to violent hit and run incident at Longford carpark

Three sentenced in connection to violent hit and run incident at carpark in the Midlands

Three people have been sentenced in connection with what Judge Keenan Johnson has called "the worst case of dangerous driving I have ever dealt with".

Joe Lawrence, 38 Lana Aoibheann, Longford, and Patrick Lawrence, 39 Great Water Street, Longford, both appeared before Longford Circuit Court charged in connection to a violent hit and run in April 2019, which left Kevin Stokes confined to a wheelchair.

Rebecca Lawrence, also of 39 Great Water Street, was also sentenced for falsely reporting her husband's car as stolen to Gardaí around the time the incident occurred.

At a lengthy hearing, the court heard that, on April 30, 2019, at approximately 4.15pm, Kevin Stokes Senior, Kevin Stokes Junior, Chantelle, Dylan and Margaret Stokes and Jane Ward were walking across the Annaly Carpark behind Longford Courthouse following an appearance at Longford Circuit Court.

Evidence was given in court of two vehicles circling the parking lot and driving at the family, hitting and causing serious injury to Kevin Stokes Senior and leaving him wheelchair-bound.

Kevin Stokes Junior and Chantelle Stokes were also injured in the incident which was part of a series of feuding incidents between the families.

"It is clear that both (Patrick and Joe Lawrence) drove their cars in an extremely reckless and dangerous manner directly at the Stokes family with the intent of causing serious injury to them," said Judge Johnson.

"Indeed it could be said that it is fortunate that none of the Stokes family sustained fatal injuries given the gravity of the offending and the fact that it involved the use of cars as weapons of offence.

"I think it is safe to say that cars when driven dangerously at pedestrians as in this case are nothing short of lethal weapons."

The court was also furnished with a medical report in respect of Kevin Stokes Snr which indicates that he sustained very significant disabling injuries to his right shoulder, lower back, bilateral hips and right ankle as well as multiple lacerations.

The report also indicated that the injuries have caused significant limitations in Mr Stokes' life and the likelihood of a full recovery is not expected in the long term.

"Clearly the charges against each of the accused are extremely serious," said Judge Johnson.

"It is hard to believe people would use their cars in such a lethal, dangerous and evil way. It is without doubt the worst case of dangerous driving that I have ever dealt with.

"It seems to be a case that the Lawrences decided to act as judge, jury and executioner in respect of offences of which they were the victims and which they believed to have been perpetrated by the Stokes," he continued, referring to a number of incidents where vehicles belonging to the Lawrences were burnt out.

"This type of vigilantism and taking of the law into one's own hands cannot be tolerated in any civilised society."

Judge Johnson proceeded to sentence Joe and Patrick Lawrence to ten years in prison, with the final two years suspended for a period of five years subject to a number of conditions. Both were disqualified from driving for a period of ten years.

Rebecca Lawrence was sentenced to two years in prison with the sentence suspended in full for a period of five years.

See next week's Longford Leader for the full report.

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