‘Get a hands free’ - Judge

A Stradbally dance instructor who had a conversation with her babysitter on her mobile phone while driving, was fined €300 in Portlaoise District Court last Thursday, April 4.

A Stradbally dance instructor who had a conversation with her babysitter on her mobile phone while driving, was fined €300 in Portlaoise District Court last Thursday, April 4.

Carmel Manton, of Inch, Stradbally, was stopped by Garda William Campbell on the Abbeyleix Road in Portlaoise on June 19 last year, and issued with a fine which she did not subsequently pay.

Ms Manton was not in court but her solicitor Josephine Fitzpatrick explained to Judge Catherine Staines that her client had moved house shortly after the incident and didn’t receive the posted fine in time.

“She accepts she was using the phone, but when she went to the post office to pay, the lady told her she was too late,” Ms Fitpatrick said.

“It’s too serious, it is a very serious matter,” said the judge.

“The call was to her babysitter,” added the solicitor.

“She should get a hands free kit,” replied Judge Staines, convicting Ms Manton and fining her €300.

Also fined for using a mobile phone whilst driving was Gerard Sage, of 39 Oakleaf Place, Portlaoise.

He had been stopped by gardaí on the Stradbally road in Portlaoise last August 8.

He told Judge Staines that while he was not on a call, he was still holding the phone.

“I had the phone in my hand, It was inexcusable,” he said.

The judge noted that he had been fined €300 for a similar offence last month.

“It seems to be a bit of a habit,” she said, fining Sage €400.

In other motoring offences, Jemma Power of 52 O’Moore Place, Portlaoise was fined €300 for non display of a valid tax disc, and €200 for non display of a valid insurance disc.

She had been stopped while driving a red Suzuki Swift on Green Mill Lane in Portlaoise last August 9 last year.

The tax and insurance discs on the car were out of date in 2011, and she was issued with a fixed charge penalty notice by Gda Louise Young. This was not paid, leading to the court summons.

Also appearing in court for driving without insurance was Kanku Tshilumba, of 83 Lake Drive Kilminchy. He had been stopped on the Dublin road on August 8 last year.

His solicitor explained to Judge Staines that Mr Tshilumba was a British citizen, and had come to Ireland to visit his girlfriend, who had given birth to a baby the week before.

“He was asked to collect food from a friend, he saw an insurance disc on the car and thought he was insured. He is genuinely shocked as to the gravity of this situation. He drove a minicab in London and now intends to start work as a taxi driver here,” the solicitor said.

Judge Staines fined Kanku Tshilumba €300, but refrained from disqualifying him from driving.