A YOUNG woman who was prosecuted for being “drunk in charge” of a vehicle was acquitted of the charge after a judge ruled the prosecution had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
During a contested hearing, Limerick Court was told that Louise Nestor, aged 29, who has an address in Douglas, Cork but who is originally from Dooneen, Crecora was arrested in the early hours of March 31, 2013.
Garda Conor O’Callaghan said while responding to reports of a car being driven driving dangerously on the “old Patrickswell Road” shortly before 5am, he noticed a car parked on the hard shoulder.
He said the lights were on and when he approached the vehicle he observed the defendant in the driver’s seat.
Garda O’Callaghan told the court Ms Nestor had her seat belt on and that while the engine was off, the keys were in the ignition and turned to the ‘on’ mode.
The witnesses said the defendant’s eyes were ‘glassy’ and that there was a strong smell of intoxicating liquor.
Following her arrest, Ms Nestor was taken to Henry Street garda station where she supplied a sample of her breath, which showed she was over the legal limit to drive.
The court heard that when she was formally charged at 6.50am Ms Nestor replied: “I really didn’t realise that I was that much over the limit. Im really sorry, I wouldn’t want to harm anybody”.
Being cross examined by Julia Leo BL, Garda O’Callaghan agreed that Ms Nestor was on the phone when he first approached her car and that her family home was close to where he encountered her.
However, he said it was dark and that there was no public lighting in the area.
Seeking to have the charge dismissed, Ms Leo, who was instructed by solicitor Sean Fitzgerald, submitted that the State had not proved her client had intended to drive.
“There was no evidence of her intention to drive. The car was stationary, the engine was off, she was close to home and she was on the phone,” she said.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly commented that Ms Nestor “could have had the keys in the ignition to heat the car” and he said it was possible that she may have been on the phone requesting help or discussing the foolishness of her driving a car while over the limit.
The judge said it was a borderline case but that there was a doubt as the State had not proved that Ms Nestor had intended to drive on the night.
He dismissed the charge.