Limerick driver told garda to request back-up while being arrested

Fintan Walsh


Fintan Walsh

Gda Niall Deegan

Gda Niall Deegan

A LIMERICK man disqualified from driving for failing to give a blood or urine sample to gardai, told a garda to call for backup after he “surrendered his two hands” during an arrest, the District Court heard.

Michael O’Neill, aged 30, of Ballyvouden, Kilteely, was charged with obstruction and failing to provide a specimen, following an arrest in Garryowen on August 13, 2016.

Giving evidence last Thursday, Garda Niall Deegan, of Henry Street, said that he observed the accused driving outbound on Mulgrave Street at 3.20pm, as he was driving inbound. He the turned the patrol car around to check his documents.

As he made the turn, Mr O’Neill “took off at speed” and turned left into Garryowen, he said.

He later observed the vehicle at Fairview Crescent and signalled the driver to stop. After he asked to see the driver’s documents, he “could get a smell of intoxicant from inside the vehicle”.

Gda Deegan told the court that, after the accused stepped out of the vehicle, he was told “You and me have a history” and he “started getting aggressive”. After he asked him to “relax and calm down”, Gda Deegan was told that “the only reason why I was stopping him was to make him miss his child’s christening”. He formed the opinion that he was under the influence of an intoxicant and that he was incapable of controlling a mechanically-propelled vehicle, he said.

When Gda Deegan attempted to handcuff O’Neill, he “pushed me back raising his elbow” and was told: “You broke my shoulder six years ago. It’s not going to happen this time, buddy.”

He accused O’Neill of “vigorously resisting arrest” and he cautioned him that he was going to pepper-spray him.

“At this stage, he started to make threats, saying: ‘I will break your jaw.’” He called for back-up and later pepper-sprayed the accused as he was “in fear for my personal safety”.

When he was brought to Henry Street, the court heard, he was asked three times to give either a blood or urine sample, to which he replied “You choose”. He later said: “I am not giving you anything”.

Solicitor John Herbert argued that it was “an extraordinary situation” to do a “u-turn on a busy street” to check his documents, and that he had 30 days to do so.

He put it to Gda Deegan “you do have a history with him” and that he stopped his client before. He argued his client put his two hands out and said: “Not behind my back because that is how you dislocated my shoulder”. 

“He was extremely nervous and he feared for himself.” Mr Herbert asked Mr O’Neill what went through his head when he saw the garda make the u-turn. He said: “I have to get away from him.” Asked why, he replied: “Why would I stop to get another broken arm? Why is it that whenever he stops me, he is on his own?” 

Mr O’Neill denied consuming an intoxicant.

He told the court that he had asked Gda Deegan to call for back-up, and said: “I am not getting into no car with you anywhere.” Inspector Helen Costelloe said to Mr O’Neill said that he was obliged to stop the car. He replied: “I know I am obliged to stop, but am I obliged to be harassed and assaulted?”

“You were not assaulted; you were arrested,” she said.  She told the accused that the “choice was yours” when he was asked to provide a specimen. 

Mr Herbert argued that the arrest was “was not legal or lawful” and that there was “no basis for what Gda Deegan was doing that day”. Insp Costelloe said that he was carrying out his duty. Judge Marian O’Leary imposed a four-year disqualification and a €500 fine.