A 44-year-old man has been found guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a woman in Co Meath almost three years ago.

Michael Collins, of St Finian's Park in Drogheda, had pleaded not guilty to the charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Jillian Thornton on 27 May 2016 at Waterside Great, Navan, Co Meath.

Collins, who was defending himself, had also pleaded not guilty to charges of endangerment, 12 charges of dangerous driving and a charge of driving under the influence of an intoxicant.

The jury of seven women and five men at Trim Circuit Court took two and a half hours to reach a unanimous verdict to find Collins guilty of all of the offences.

The trial, which lasted four weeks, heard the fatal crash followed a 25 minute pursuit through Drogheda and east Meath, that began when a dark-coloured Mitsubishi Colt failed to stop for gardaí after driving the wrong way on a roundabout.

Ms Thornton, 20, was a back seat passenger in the car on the night of the crash.

Her family, who were present in court throughout the trial, reacted emotionally as the verdict was read out.

Collins was remanded in custody for sentencing on 21 May.

The trial was told Collins left Drogheda on the evening of 27 May 2016 to go to a festival in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Ms Thornton and another woman, Alannah Byrne, were travelling in the car with him.

The trial heard the car Collins was driving, a Mitsubishi Colt, failed to stop for gardaí after driving the wrong way on a roundabout.

Gardaí involved in following the car told the court Collins had driven through a number of red lights, travelled at high speed on the wrong side of the road without lights, almost collided with other vehicles and forced a number of garda cars onto the hard shoulder.

The pursuit across Drogheda, Donore, Duleek and on to the N2 lasted 25 minutes and ended when the car collided with a Volkswagen Passat at 10.22pm that night.

The trial heard Collins was found in the driver's seat of the car, while a young woman was in the front passenger seat of the car, which had been split in two in the crash.

The driver of the Passat told the trial the other car had come sliding towards him without any lights on before the collision.

The trial heard Ms Thornton, who had been in the back of the Colt, was found unresponsive on the opposite side of the road.

The jury heard two frantic 999 calls during which the caller said she and a friend were in a car involved in a high-speed garda chase.

"The driver says if you don't call off the chase he's going to put us in a ditch," she said.

When the garda taking the call advised her to ask the driver to stop she said he refused.

"He's not listening to us. He's going to put us in a ditch," she said.

In a second 999 call played to the jury, the garda repeatedly urged the caller to make sure she and her friend had their seatbelts on and again urged the driver to stop.

The court was also played CCTV of part of the pursuit, which showed a dark car travelling through Drogheda on the wrong side of the road.

The jury also saw Snapchats from the night of the crash, believed to have been recorded inside the car during the pursuit.

The short video of two women had text across it which read "high speed garda chase".

Collins, who was defending himself, gave evidence in his trial.

He told the jury his life was under threat and when the car began to follow him he believed he was going to be shot.

Detective Paul Sweeney of Drogheda Garda Station had earlier told the trial that he had visited Collins just weeks before the crash to warn the accused his life was under threat.

He said he believed "would be assassins" were travelling the car in pursuit of him.

Collins also told the court that he asked the two passengers to get out of the car at one point during the pursuit, but they refused.

The defendant also told the court that he had smoked cannabis the day before the crash. A blood sample showed a presence of cannabis in his system after the crash.

He told the jury that he had been smoking cannabis for thirty years and it had no effect on him.

Collins also told the trial that he believed he was unfit to be arrested and interviewed by gardaí.

He recalled waking up in hospital following the crash with a fractured neck and a badly broken nose.

In his closing speech, prosecuting counsel Carl Hanohoe said Collins had driven in a reckless fashion, resulting in a catastrophic collision, yet he accepted no blame for it.

In his closing speech, Collins maintained his innocence, telling the jury that he was not guilty of any of the charges.

After the verdict was handed down, Jillian's sister Elaine Thornton described her sisterin court.

She said she was the baby of the family, bubbly and full of life. "Her smile lit up a room," she said.

Judge Martina Baxter commended the gardaí and the bravery demonstrated on the night of the crash and throughout the trial.