Thursday, 28 October 2010 09:20
Solicitor Mr. Evan O’Dwyer Judge Mary Devins has adjourned her decision on a drunk driving charge at Ballina court until she has considered the evidence of a garda, which had been challenged by the defendant's solicitor on the basis that his oral evidence was different to that made in his statement. A further complication arose in the case when the garda in question said he couldn't be sure when he wrote the statement. Before the court on a charge of drunk driving was Ger Sweeney, Carrabaggan, Knockmore, Ballina. His solicitor, Mr. Evan O'Dwyer, based his defence on the evidence of a garda who arrested the defendant.
Garda Niall O'Malley said he was on mobile patrol on the night of July 25 when he got a report of a suspected drunk driver.
He drove into Diamond's Yard car park at 2.30 a.m. and a vehicle swerved to the left, narrowly missing the patrol car.
When he spoke to the driver he got a strong smell of intoxicating liquor, his speech was slurred and his eyes glazed.
An intoxilyser test at Ballina Garda Station revealed a concentration of 86 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.
In response to Mr. O'Dwyer, witness said he accepted in his statement he only mentioned he got a strong smell of alcohol from the defendant. There was no mention of slurred speech or glazed eyes.
However, he said he was sure he made those observations at the time of the arrest.
He also accepted the date on top of the statement was wrong and possibly related to another case as he generally used a template when making out a statement. He couldn't say when he put the statement together but it was probably shortly after making the arrest.
Judge Devins looked at the contemporaneous notes made by Garda O'Malley in his notebook and also noted there was no mention of slurred speech or glazed eyes, which were all-important if an opinion was to be formed about the a defendant being incapable of driving a vehicle.
Judge Devins further commented there were one or two other matters in the statement prepared by Garda O'Malley which raised one or two questions, notably a line where he said he put his hand on the defendant's shoulder and arrested him.
"There is only one garda in Ballina who uses this form of arrest procedure," she said.
Judge Devins said it was also obvious the garda in question was working from a template when he was making out his statement.
Inspector Joe Doherty said in his view the defendant was not prejudiced as the oral evidence of the garda was the most important evidence and he had said the defendant had slurred speech and glazed eyes.
Judge Devins said she was not entirely satisfied with the evidence and would need to think about it before she made a final decision.