Garda stopped vehicle that he saw parked outside Limerick pub

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan

Judge Mary Larkin dismissed the defence’s arguments

Judge Mary Larkin dismissed the defence’s arguments

A GARDA stopped a vehicle that he had earlier seen parked in the car-park of a public house, Newcastle West Court heard.

Paul Sheehan, aged 44, of Bolane, Kildimo pleaded not guilty to drink driving at Ballyvareen, Kildimo on January 4, 2017 at 1am.

Garda Philip Ellard said he stopped a vehicle he had previously observed in the car-park of a local public house.

“I smelt intoxicating liquor from his breath. He indicated he had consumed alcohol five minutes previously,” said Garda Ellard, who waited 20 minutes before performing a roadside breath test.

“He failed. At 1.21am I arrested him and conveyed him to Newcastle West garda station. The Evidenzer machine wasn’t working. A doctor arrived at 2.20am and took a urine sample. The reading was 164mgs of alcohol per 100mls of urine,” said Garda Ellard.

Charlie O’Connor, solicitor for Mr Sheehan, asked Garda Ellard if the only reason he stopped the vehicle was because he saw it parked outside a public house

“Yes,” said Garda Ellard.

“There was no issue with the manner of his driving,” asked Mr O’Connor.

“No,” said Garda Ellard.

Mr O’Connor said his client will say he provided a sample for the doctor.

“The doctor had difficulty putting it in to the containers and you assisted,” said Mr O’Connor.

Garda Ellard said: “I wouldn’t touch a urine sample.”

Mr O’Connor said his client will say the doctor had a shake in his hands.

“Mr Sheehan told me he was glad he didn’t opt to give blood when he saw the doctor endeavouring to divide the samples. You filled from the jar in to the containers,” said Mr O’Connor.

“Not correct,” said Garda Ellard.

Mr O’Connor said the matter should be struck out as the garda didn’t say it was a motor propelled vehicle; he wasn’t told he could have his own doctor there and no evidence was given for stopping the vehicle.

Inspector Alan Cullen said there was no suggestion he was a cyclist on a pedal bike; there is no necessity to inform that they have the option of having their own doctor and a garda is “quite entitled to stop a vehicle on a public road”.

Judge Mary Larkin didn’t hold with Mr O’Connor.

Mr Sheehan took the stand and said the doctor he met in the station was very elderly.

“I gave the doctor the urine sample. He was shaking like mad. He couldn’t put the urine in to the containers. Garda Ellard took it off him and did it,” said Mr Sheehan, who handed notes he had written on the morning after the incident to the judge.

Insp Cullen said Garda Ellard was very clear in his evidence.

“He said he had nothing to do with the urine sample. He was horrified when it was put to him,” said Insp Cullen.

“That’s what he did,” said Mr Sheehan.

Insp Cullen asked if Garda Ellard wore gloves.

“I don’t know. I presume he was,” said Mr Sheehan.

Mr O’Connor said if the garda put the urine in to the containers the chain of evidence was not complied with and the “certificate would fail”.

Judge Larkin said: “This is a man under the influence of alcohol as opposed to a garda doing his job.”

Mr O’Connor asked for the case to be adjourned to call the doctor to give evidence.

The judge said she had “no doubt” in the case and found Mr Sheehan guilty of drink driving.

Mr O’Connor said his client has no previous convictions.

“He has worked all his life. A disqualification will have severe repercussions because he is involved in driving vehicles. It was a low reading,” said Mr O’Connor.

Judge Larkin fined Mr Sheehan €250 and put him off the road for two years commencing on November 1.  

Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.