Drink driving charges dismissed over incorrect caution given to defendant by garda

Defendant's van was found overturned near Priory pub

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Drink driving charges dismissed over incorrect caution given to defendant by garda

The case was heard in Naas

The case against an Athy man charged with drink driving and trying to frustrate the drink driving laws has been dismissed at Naas District Court.

Ian Fitzpatrick (45), of 21 The Paddocks, Crookstown, Athy, was charged after his white Volkswagen transporter van was found overturned on its side, at Ballymount, Kilcullen, on the old N9 road, not far from the Priory pub.

After hearing legal submissions and evidence for over an hour on June 13, Judge Bernadette Owens dismissed the drink driving charge over the issue of cautions given to Mr Fitzpatrick at the scene.

Garda Mannion said he was called to the accident at 6.40pm on January 24, 2015. He arrived around 7pm and found two women, but no driver, present. Shortly after, the defendant, who had visible injuries to his body, returned to the scene. The court was told that Mr Fitzpatrick had drunk a brandy and two cans of beer after the crash, “to calm his nerves”.

As a result he was prosecuted under Section 18 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, for trying to frustrate the drink driving prosecution.

Mr Fitzpatrick failed a breath test, and while the court heard that the original of the test certificate was mislaid, Garda Inspector Mel Smith successfuly argued that, under the Criminal Evidence Act 1992, copies were sufficient. However, Sarah Connolly BL (for the defendant) argued Garda Mannion had not correctly cautioned the defendant at the scene. The Garda said he had but he had to establish the facts before he did so.

Judge Owens accepted the submission of Ms Connolly, that the procedure for the caution was not correct, on the basis that visible injury to Mr Fitzpatrick suggested he had committed an offence, and the Garda should have cautioned him before speaking to him.

She dismissed both charges.