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Former Labour TD Michael McNamara wins appeal against dangerous driving conviction

McNamara has served no time off the road as the case has been under appeal.
Nov 28th 2018, 10:38 PM 18,442 0

FORMER LABOUR TD Michael McNamara has won his appeal against a conviction for dangerous driving against him on the same night that he was pepper sprayed by a garda.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys said that he has “a reasonable doubt” over the case against McNamara after saying that he couldn’t consider the speed or driving by McNamara (44) on the night as dangerous.

Judge Keys said that the expert evidence presented to court on behalf of McNamara showed that McNamara could not have been going at high speeds around the bends in question “as he wouldn’t have got around those corners at high speed”.

Judge Keys ruling overturns the dangerous driving conviction imposed on McNamara by Judge John King at the district court in January that came with an automatic two year driving ban.

McNamara has served no time off the road as the case has been under appeal.

Dismissed

At the district court Judge King dismissed an accompanying charge against McNamara that he had obstructed a garda in the course of his duties on the same date outside his home after being pursued by a garda car to his home.

Michael McNamara told the district court that he was “utterly and completely shocked” when pepper sprayed by a garda outside his home in December 2016.

In relation to the appeal against the dangerous driving charge, McNamara told the circuit court that it was ‘incorrect’ to state that his driving was dangerous on the night.

He said:

I have driven on that road since I was 17 and I don’t think you could take those bends at more than 50km/h.

McNamara was driving the 1.1 km distance from Scarriff to his home at Tobernagath, Scarriff at 2.05 am on 10 December 2016.

Under cross-examination from State Solicitor, Martin Linnane, McNamara said that he didn’t hear the siren of the Garda car in pursuit as he was playing quite loudly a CD from ‘Oliver’.

McNamara said that he was listening to the CD as he was trying to learn the lines as he had a bit part in a Oliver musical.

 McNamara said that it wasn’t safe to stop for the Garda car on the road before pulling in at his home at Tobernagath. 

In evidence, Garda Darren McLoughlin told the court that in the 80 km/h zone leading out of Scarriff, he was doing 100 km/h in order to keep up with McNamara’s car.

He said that in the bends that followed during the pursuit on the narrow road “at all times, I found it very hard to maintain control of the car going around the corners”.

Hard to control 

Garda McLoughlin said that he didn’t know what speed that McNamara was going around the corners “but I found it very hard to maintain control of the patrol car”.

Judge Keys said that his ruling in the case wasn’t a criticism of McLoughlin stating that McLoughlin was carrying out his duties on the night.

In the case, McNamara retained a three-member strong legal team, led by David Sutton SC to make the appeal along with an expert witness.

The expert witness who appeared on behalf of McNamara consulting engineer Gerald O’Keeffe told the court that he examined the road and found that if you didn’t go at the speeds or less that he had driven at around the bends, you would go off the road.

 O’Keeffe said that the maximum you could drive around the first bend was 69 km/h.

O’Keeffe said that the second bend “I had to drop down to a speed of 40 km/h otherwise I would have gone out of control into ditch at the other side”.

O’Keeffe said that on another bend, you couldn’t drive over 55 km/h and on the other bends, you would slow down to 40km/h and 60 km/h.

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Gordon Deegan

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