Thurles district court
A Cahir man who drove his car at high speed away from gardaí near Thurles, was found guilty of two charges of dangerous driving, and one of careless driving, at Thurles district court.
Garda Robert O’Donovan told Judge Elizabeth MacGrath that while on mobile patrol with Garda Ian Browne on December 2, 2017, at the Mill road, Thurles, he encountered a driver coming against him in the “centre position” in the road, and at speed.
The car was being driven erratically, and its “road position was poor”. The garda had to take evasive measures to avoid the oncoming vehicle. Gardaí subsequently pursued the vehicle, which was driven by Colm O’Shea, of 4 Old Church Street, Cahir.
Mr O’Shea was pursued at high speed, and failed to stop. He proceeded past Turtulla, to Pouldine crossing where he crossed the continuous white line several times. Mr O’Shea’s car “actually went on to the grass verge,” said the garda. A second garda gave evidence that Mr O’Shea travelled in excess of 140pkh along country roads, taking a “number of sharp bends” and at one junction, he “just shot left” without indicating.
When he was stopped, Garda O’Donovan detected a strong smell of intoxicating liquor, and Mr O’Shea’s eyes were bloodshot, and his pupils dilated. Mr O’Shea was arrested and brought to Thurles garda station, where he was “quarrelsome and agitated.” Mr O’Shea refused to give a blood sample, saying he had a fear of needles, and did not give a urine sample. Mr O’Shea said he had a “genuine fear of needles” and would “collapse and faint” if a needle was produced.
Solicitor Colin Morrissey maintained that on each occasion, the threshold to prove dangerous driving was not reached, and the charges should be struck out on that basis. Mr Morrissey also maintained that his client was detained for an “unreasonable” period. Mr O’Shea had just used the toilet before he was asked to give a urine sample, added Mr Morrissey. The case against Mr O’Shea was not proven beyond reasonable doubt, argued Mr Morrissey.
Mr O’Shea was charged with dangerous driving contrary to Section 53 at Knockroe, Turtulla, and the Mill road, Thurles. He was also charged with failing to appear in court on April 24, 2018, and with failing to provide a blood sample at Thurles garda station on December 2, 2017.
In her conclusion, Judge MacGrath said she accepted that the charge of dangerous driving at Knockroe, did “not meet the threshold” for dangerous driving, but did for careless driving, and convicted Mr O’Shea of this less serious offence.
In relation to the Mill road, Mr O’Shea maintained he was driving normally, but “this begs the question” as to why did gardaí decide to follow, said the judge. Judge MacGrath the gardaí’s accounts were “more credible” than Mr O’Shea’s and that she was satisfied the threshold for dangerous driving had been met at Turtulla, and the Mill road.
In relation to failing to give a sample, it was a defence against the charge if the defendant could prove he had a “substantial reason” not to provide the sample. “He was given a chance to outline a substantial reason, but he just said he did not like needles,” said Judge MacGrath. Gardai did carry out the procedure correctly. Judge MacGrath said she was not satisfied by the explanation given by Mr O’Shea as to a “substantial and good reason” for refusal, and convicted Mr O’Shea of this offence.
Judge MacGrath imposed three driving bans, of 4 years, and two periods of two years. Mr O’Shea, 32, was fined a total of €800.