Kildare man's car searched as Maynooth University tried to prevent students bringing in alcohol, court hears

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Kildare man's car searched as Maynooth University tried to prevent students bringing in alcohol, court hears

Maynooth University

A Kilcock man has been convicted for drink driving following legal argument whether the offence took place on the public road or Maynooth University property.

At Kilcock District Court sitting held in Naas on September 5, Noel Conneally (62), with an address at Rodenstown, Kilcock, was convicted of drink driving at North Campus, Maynooth on December 14, 2015.

The court was told that Gardai were called to the scene after Mr Conneally refused to allow his car to be searched by a private security company on entry to the North Campus from the roundabout at the Kilcock Road.

The court was told that the company was called in partly to prevent alcohol being brought into the university in cars.

Gardai said that security at the campus stopped the car entering the college grounds but David Powderly, solicitor, representing Mr Conneally, said his client was in the college grounds at the time of the attempted search.

He argued that this had to be case as the private security company could not conduct the search on the public road. Gardai argued the car was on the public road at the time of the offences.

Garda Inspector John Costello said that the public had access to the area. There were no gates and a private area was one out of which you could shut the public.

Judge Desmond Zaidan was told that the reason for the search was that students having Christmas parties were “drinking all day”.

The private security firm searched cars to make sure that no alcohol was taken into the college grounds. The court was also told that classes had been interrupted by drinkers.

Gardai said they did not see a map of the college ground boundary but that as far as they were aware it was a public area.

A member of the security staff, Shane Dooley, who was dealing with Mr Conneally on the day, said that he did not know if the ground they were on was college-owned property.

Mr Dooley said Mr Conneally, who was the driver, was slurring his words and was very aggressive. He said it took the Gardai three to four minutes to arrive after they were called.  He also said that the defendant’s car was parked on the road before the barrier.

He said that previously classes had been interrupted by drinkers. His security company was then called in. It was their first year on the job. Mr Dooley said they could refuse entry to drivers if they refused to be searched. Mr Conneally had a 83 mg alcohol breath reading.

Mr Powderly asked for a direction that the case be dismissed on the basis that the alleged offence took place on private property. Judge Zaidan refused the direction and convicted Mr Conneall,y who he fined €350 and disqualified from driving for three years.

Mr Powderly said his client would not be going into evidence. The conviction is to be appealed.