A man who was convicted in the district court had the case against him thrown out during a recent sitting of Longford Circuit Court because of an error in the correct name of the crossroads in north Longford where the offence occurred.
Seamus Lennon, Killevehy, Mohill, Co Leitrim appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson convicted of driving while over the legal limit of alcohol and driving without tax, insurance or NCT at Legga Cross, Longford on November 2, 2015.
His appeal in the circuit court was against the district court conviction.
The court heard that on November 11, 2015, gardaí stopped the defendant at what Garda Jillian Carroll believed at the time to be Legga Cross in Moyne, Co Longford.
Outlining her evidence to the court, Garda Carroll said that she had been the driver of the patrol car that intercepted the defendant on the date in question.
She said she received a call on the radio alerting her to a “situation” and gardaí were subsequently endeavouring to locate a vehicle that was travelling in the Arva direction.
“I headed in the direction and located a silver Toyota being driven slowly,” she added, before pointing to the fact that the car then began to sway into the grass verge.
“This happened a few times and when I called it back over the radio, I was informed that there was no tax or insurance on the car.
“It later transpired that Mr Lennon was insured, but I did not know this at the time and when I met the Sergeant at Moyne National School that night he told me that he would try and intercept the vehicle.”
Meanwhile, the court was told that the car eventually travelled through Moyne Cross, however Garda Carroll informed the court that she understood at the time that the crossroads was Legga Cross.
It was only much later that she realised her error.
“When I got there I spoke to the defendant - his speech was slurred and there was a strong smell of alcohol from him,” the Garda continued.
“I formed the opinion that he was intoxicated and he was arrested under section 4 of the Road Traffic Act on suspicion of drink driving and subsequently conveyed to Longford Garda Station.”
The court also heard that the defendant’s vehicle was seized because the tax was out since 2012 and it hadn’t been NCT’d since 2013.
Meanwhile, back at the garda station, the defendant provided a urine sample and an alcohol test provided a reading of 188 mg/alcohol per 100 ml/urine, the court was told.
State solicitor, Mark Connellan then informed Judge Johnson that an application had been made to amend the summons so that it read Moyne Cross, not Legga Cross.
Addressing Mr Connellan directly, the Judge pointed out that the matter before the district court happened at Legga Cross and it was those proceedings that were now before him in the circuit court.
Mr Connellan then said, “Well there is an inaccuracy in the Order, certainly”.
In mitigation, Defence Counsel, Mr Niall Flynn BL said that his client had been charged and convicted in respect of an offence at Legga Cross and it now turned out that it was Moyne Cross.
“There is a discrepancy in the Order now and this makes it a bad Order,” he added.
“The summons needs to be amended and we would argue that it is too late to change it now.”
Mr Flynn BL then went on to lay out how proceedings in relation to the error should have been handled.
Addressing the matter, Mr Connellan said that Garda Carroll still believed it to be Legga Cross when the district court hearing took place.
“It was only later that she learned of her error,” he added.
“This is not a bad Order, in fact yes, there is an inaccuracy, but it is not a bad Order.”
During his ruling, Judge Johnson said that the evidence in the district court “varied” with the evidence given in his court.
“All the evidence in the district court was Legga and the Order refers to Legga Cross, but now we learn that it was Moyne Cross [there is a two mile distance between the two].”
The Judge subsequently moved then to strike the matter out.
“Your client, Mr Flynn can count himself extremely fortunate, and should rethink his disgraceful behaviour,” Judge Johnson concluded.