County Limerick drug-driving case thrown out over woman’s unlawful arrest

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Drug-driving charges brought against a motorist who struck a pedestrian were dismissed after a judge ruled her arrest was unlawful

Drug-driving charges brought against a motorist who struck a pedestrian were dismissed after a judge ruled her arrest was unlawful

DRUG-driving charges brought against a Limerick motorist who struck a pedestrian were dismissed after a judge ruled her arrest was unlawful.

Ann Burke, aged 59, of Daarwood Crescent, Newcastle West was prosecuted before the local court relating to an accident at the Square, Newcastle West on July 17, 2017.

Garda Geraldine McCarthy told Judge Flann Brennan she was parking a garda van at around 3.25pm when she heard a loud bang.

She said she observed a woman lying on the footpath while the defendant was in the driver’s seat of a Volkswagen Passatt which was stopped at the side of the road with the engine running.

Garda McCarthy said Ms Burke appeared “confused and slightly disorientated” and that she had to reach in and turn off the engine as the defendant was fumbling and unable to turn the key.

Garda Ann McCarthy told the court that having been briefed by her colleague, she spoke to Ms Burke who said she thought her foot had slipped off the accelerator.

She said she had been examined by paramedics and that while speaking with her she noticed her speech was slurred and that she “appeared incoherent”.

While Ms Burke passed a roadside breath test, Garda McCarthy said she was still of the view she was under the influence of an intoxicant and arrested her on suspicion of drink driving.

The defendant was taken the Newcastle West garda station where she later provided a sample of blood to a doctor.

Judge Flann Brennan was told an analysis of the sample confirmed the presence of Benzodiazepines in her her system.

Being cross examined by solicitor Pat Enright Garda McCarthy accepted the defendant had cooperated and complied with all directions on the day. 

The garda confirmed she had not carried out any impairment tests at the scene of the accident and that the analysis of his client’s blood sample did not specify the concentration of drugs in her system.

She accepted the defendant had been prescribed Librium which is a Benzodiazepine-class drug.

Seeking to have the charge dismissed, Mr Enright said an accident in itself was not evidence of impairment and that there was no evidence before the court that his client was incapable of controlling a mechanically controlled vehicle.

Referring to the evidence of Garda McCarthy that she had informed his client that she was being arrested for drink driving, he submitted the arrest was not correct and was not permissible in law.

“In this case the arrest is crucial because of what happened afterwards,” he said.

Having considered the detailed submissions, Judge Brennan said he could not be satisfied the arrest was valid which meant any evidence gathered after that point was not admissable.

Accordingly, he dismissed the charge.