“THIS was one gamble that didn’t pay off,” Judge Eugene O’Kelly said in respect of a professional poker player who had contested a charge of drug driving at Limerick District Court.
Paul Carr, 33, of Vartry Avenue, Raheen, was charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant, namely cocaine, on September 28, 2011.
Garda Paul Bentley said he was on mobile patrol at around 12.40am when his attention was drawn to a blue 2008 BMW, which he observed drive at speed up William Street, turning on to High Street, Mungret Street and then Broad Street.
Garda Bentley said the patrol car in which he was following the BMW had “struggled to keep up” and temporarily lost sight of the car before he saw it stopped at a red light on Clare Street.
He told Judge Eugene O’Kelly that he had got out of the patrol car and spoken to the driver, Paul Carr, who he said was unsteady on his feet and had glassy eyes. Carr was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and taken to Henry Street Garda Station. A doctor was called to take a urine sample and Garda Bentley said this had revealed traces of cocaine when results were received from the Forensic Science Laboratory on October 8.
Darrach McCarthy, solicitor, asked Garda Bentley why his client had not been brought to the toilet or anywhere he could be afforded privacy when giving the sample. Garda Bentley replied: “for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t be letting Mr Carr out of my sight while giving a sample. It is not unknown for prisoners to interfere with a sample by filling it with water”.
Mr McCarthy sought a direction from the court on the basis that no evidence had been heard from the Garda member in charge of persons in custody on the night and there had been no evidence presented that Mr Carr had been notified of his rights, including his right to consult with a solicitor.
“Is your client saying he was not given notice of his rights?” Judge O’Kelly asked.
“My client is saying nothing. I am saying there was no evidence of such from the state,” Mr McCarthy said.
Judge O’Kelly said that had a solicitor been called on the night, they could have “given no advice that would have altered the legal requirement on him to give a sample”. He was satisfied to convict Carr in the circumstances.
Inspector Seamus Ruane outlined that Carr had 23 previous convictions, including a number for traffic offences and he had been disqualified from driving for 12 months for driving without insurance in March 2010.
Mr McCarthy said that his client had not been drink driving nor was this “a case of the morning after”. “Some time prior to this incident he had taken a substance while on holidays,” he said.
Carr, Mr McCarthy said, was self-employed and “a professional poker player of some notoriety in Limerick”.
“Well this was one gamble that didn’t pay off,” Judge O’Kelly said, disqualifying Carr from driving for four years and imposing a fine of €2,500 with 16 weeks to pay.