A Fine Gael Co Councillor who appeared at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court charged under the Road Traffic Act had the case against him dismissed.
Frank Kilbride of Aughakilmore, Granard, Co Longford appeared before Judge Seamus Hughes charged with failing to provide a breath sample at Longford Garda Station on March 24, 2013.
The case centred around a single vehicle accident between Drumlish and Granard in which the defendant was the sole occupant of the car that was observed by a passing garda “stuck in the ditch”.
Garda Justin Browne told the court that at approximately 11:25pm on March 23 he was driving the patrol car on the route when he saw a vehicle in the ditch. He said that he turned the patrol car around and when he got out to investigate he discovered Mr Kilbride sitting in the driver’s seat.
“He said to me, ‘can you get me out of here?’,” the garda added. “He was revving the car and there was a strong smell of intoxicating liquor coming from his breath. His speech was slurred and when he stepped out of the car, he was unsteady on his feet and I formed the opinion that he was not capable of being in control of a motor vehicle.”
The court then heard that Mr Kilbride was arrested under section 49 of the Road Traffic Act and taken to Longford Garda Station where he was requested to provide two breath specimens.
“Mr Kilbride made three attempts to provide the breath specimen within a specific period of time and because he was unable to do this, the readings were returned as incomplete,” Garda Browne continued.
“We brought him home and he was unable to get into his house, so he stayed in the Park House Hotel that night.”
In mitigation, the defendant’s barrister Mr Martin Gibblin BL said that his client was taking prescribed medication for depression on the night in question and that he also suffered a cut to his head. Garda Browne subsequently informed the court that there was “a slight cut above Mr Kilbride’s eye”. The garda also pointed out that the defendant had been both cooperative and courteous to the gardaí on the night.
Mr Gibblin BL then referred to the Cagney Case in the High Court last year, which found that where a person cannot provide a breath sample at a garda station, they must be provided with the two other options - the provision of blood or urine samples.
During his deliberations on the matter Judge Hughes agreed that the Cagney Case had indeed brought with it a new amendment to the Road Traffic Act which provided for all other options to be offered where there is a failure to provide a breath sample. He therefore dismissed Mr Kilbride’s case, but not before complementing the gardaí on the way in which they delivered their evidence to the court.
“I want to compliment the gardaí on their evidence,” the judge said, adding that he was in no doubt that the defendant “quite clearly had a large amount to drink”.
“The gardaí must offer another option where a person fails the breath test and this was not offered to Mr Kilbride.”