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01 Dec 2021

Longford man lied to gardaí after breaking Level 5 restrictions, court hears

Longford Courthouse.

A man falsely told gardaí he had pulled in to get petrol at a garage in Granard after being stopped over 20km from his home during Level 5 lockdown, a court has heard.

A man falsely told gardaí he had pulled in to get petrol at a garage in Granard after being stopped over 20km from his home during Level 5 lockdown, a court has heard.

Garda Aiden Lenehan said he stopped Joseph and Nancy Lawrence, both of 110 MacEoin Park, Longford, on February 22, 2021 at Rathcronan, Granard just after 1pm.

He said Mr Lawrence told him the couple were after visiting a graveyard, something Garda Lenehan said be believed to be untrue.

Garda Lenehan said he was then told by the accused of how he had also been to a local garage to get petrol.

“I went out (to the garage) and checked CCTV, but there was no evidence he (Mr Lawrence) got petrol,” said Garda Lenehan.

In defence, solicitor Frank Gearty said his clients were a young married couple with four chidren, all of whom were under the age of 10.

He said Ms Lawrence had moved from Dublin to Longford where she settled down.

Mr Gearty said the reason his clients were in Granard that day was to visit a grave of a family relative at nearby Granardkill Cemetery.

Garda Lenehan again disputed those version of events and rejected for a second time claims the pair had also visited a nearby filling station.

“I looked at the fuel dial on the car and it was low,” he said.

“I checked out the CCTV and he (Mr Lawrence) didn't pull into the garage.”

Judge John Brennan in giving his view of what had occurred, said an aggravating factor was how Mr Lawrence chose not to address the issue when given an opportunity to do so by Garda Lenehan.

In mitigation, Mr Gearty said Ms Lawrence had since managed to secure a job and accepted the incident was one which should have been avoided.

He asked the court to adopt as lenient an approach as possible and said a possible extenuating factor was that the pair had chosen to travel only as far as Granard and not left the county.

Judge Brennan said the incident would have been lessened somewhat had Mr Lawrence “just told the truth” as he complimented Garda Lenehan on his ability to get to the bottom of the matter so swiftly.

He fined Mr Lawrence €300 and Ms Lawrence €100 with both being given four months to pay.

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