'I couldn't care if you had a private audience with the Pope', says Longford judge of man's new job

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Tipperary District Court

A judge has told a man he couldn’t “care if he had a private audience with the pope” after his attempts to seek a hearing date for dangerous driving in Longford town last year fell on deaf ears.

Hughie Stokes, 63 Springlawn, Longford had, through his solicitor John Quinn, indicated a plea to a lesser charge of careless driving following an incident at Dublin Road, Longford on May 11, 2018.

Sgt Paddy McGirl said gardaí had been on patrol at 11.10pm when they came across a vehicle travelling at speed.

He said the vehicle in question proceeded to undertake another car before mounting a footpath.

As gardaí set off in pursuit, the court heard the vehicle went through a set of red lights and turned right onto the Ballinalee Road.

The vehicle, he said, continued to travel at speed until it eventually stopped at the Ardnacassa housing estate.

Mr Quinn said his client had been on the “dole for a while” but would be acceptive to a careless driving charge.

“I believe he has learned his lesson,” said Mr Quinn.

When Judge Hughes flatly refused to reduce the charge of dangerous driving, Mr Quinn said he would be seeking a date for hearing.

“Are you serious?” Judge Hughes asked.

Mr Quinn said one of the reasons behind his client’s stance was because he had recently secured employment with UK leisure giant Center Parcs.

“I don’t care if he has a private audience with the Pope,” shouted Judge Hughes.

“He is charged with dangerous driving. Here I am minding my own business when a car undertakes me, mounts a footpath and goes through a red light.

“It’s only by the grace of God he didn’t injure anyone.”

Turning to Mr Quinn directly, Judge Hughes said: “For anyone to say that’s not dangerous driving is not living in the real world, which I know you are.”

In the wake of those comments, Mr Quinn said his client would be pleading guilty after all.

As such, a two year driving ban was handed to Mr Stokes along with a €250 fine.