A YOUNG mother has spoken of her shock and distress when up to six gardai called to her home at 3 o’clock in the morning to arrest her and bring her to Limerick prison over an unpaid traffic fine.
The 27-year-old, who lives at a halting site in the city, has described how the gardai arrived at her home at 2.50am one day last week.
“It was about quarter-to-three in the morning and they knocked at my back door and they had flash-lamps and at first I didn’t know who it was, then when I opened the door it was the guards – about six of them,” she told the Limerick Leader.
“When they walked in, they asked us what our names were because my sister was there as well and my mam was in bed and my baby was in bed. When they came in then they said there is a warrant for your arrest, I asked them for what and they said for a mobile phone,” added the woman who asked that she not be identified.
It is understood the woman was caught driving while using a mobile phone in 2010.
When she failed to pay the fine, court proceedings were initiated and she was convicted and fined at Limerick Court last May.
However, she insists she was not aware of the initial fine or the court proceedings and she was not present in court for the hearing.
In accordance with normal procedures, a penal warrant was subsequently issued and forwarded to gardai when the €250 fine was not paid.
The woman pleaded with the gardai not bring her to prison when they called because of the age of her baby and she told them she would sort it out the following day.
“I said I was not going up to the prison, no way and they were fair enough about it, but it was the hour of the morning that was upsetting,” she said.
The woman contacted her solicitor Sarah Ryan the following day and an application was immediately made at Limerick Court to extend time to allow an appeal.
Granting the application, Judge Eugene O’Kelly said he hoped there was some “extraordinary” reason for the gardai attempting to execute the penal warrant at that time of the morning.
“They should not be executed after midnight or before 7am,” he said.
Insp John Deasy said it was “not the normal practice” and he told the court there may have been specific reasons as to why it was done at that time.