A MAN who admitted having a can of pepper spray ‘for his own protection’ in Limerick avoided a criminal conviction after a judge ruled gardai did not follow correct procedure when searching his car.
Ian Brennan, aged 30, who has an address at Grianan, Westbury was prosecuted under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act in relation to an incident at O’Connell Avenue on June 5, 2016.
Garda Mick Moloney said having stopped the car at around midday, he decided to search the vehicle under the provisions of Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
He told Limerick District Court that during the search, he located a can of pepper spray in an envelope in the passenger door.
In a cautioned memo, Mr Brennan took responsibility for the canister telling garda Moloney he had it for his own protection as he had been “shot by the Collopys before.”
Being questioned by solicitor Sarah Ryan, Garda Moloney said he decided to search the car as he was aware the passenger who was travelling with Mr Brennan has a number of previous convictions for drugs offences.
He agreed gardai must have “reasonable grounds” to carry out a section 23 search and that they have a duty to inform any relevant party what the grounds are.
When asked by Ms Ryan he said he did not inform Mr Brennan about the previous convictions of the passenger before he searched his car.
Noting this, Judge Marian O’Leary granted an application to dismiss the charge.
She ordered the destruction of the canister of pepper spray.