Man changes plea and blames girlfriend

AN Offaly man who initially pleaded guilty to hitting a man with his car and then leaving the scene told last week’s district court that it had actually been his girlfriend who was driving at the time.

AN Offaly man who initially pleaded guilty to hitting a man with his car and then leaving the scene told last week’s district court that it had actually been his girlfriend who was driving at the time.

Mark Burn, Lumcloon, Offaly, faced two charges of hit and run (failing to give information and failing to report), and charges of having no licence or insurance, at Laught, Mountmellick, on January 17 last year.

Inspector Martin Harrington gave evidence that a pedestrian walking on the road just after dark was struck by a vehicle. The man said he heard a bang as the car hit him, and he ended up in a ditch. The man saw a white car drive on without stopping and he managed to get to his own car and followed it. He found the white car parked up and spoke to the driver, a young woman, but he was later told that Burn had been driving at the time of the incident. The court heard that the injured party then spent three days in hospital.

Insp Harrington said that Burn also had no licence or insurance.

Defence claimed that Burn had been driving his girlfriend’s car, as he believed he was covered to drive.

“He was very young when this happened and he’s since passed his test,” said defence.

Defence said that after Burn heard the impact on the night, he pulled in to see what had happened. Defence said that the injured party informed Burn that he was okay, which was why Burn then left the scene.

“To his credit, he did stop and was assured that the gentleman was okay,” said defence.

However, Judge Catherine Staines read out a passage from the injured party’s statement, in which the man had claimed: “I said I wasn’t all right, I was badly hurt.” The judge pointed out that Burn had not stopped the car following the collision, he had kept driving.

“He hit someone on the road, this man could have been killed,” said the judge. “He could have left him for dead in a ditch.”

At that point in the case, Burn spoke up and said he would tell the court the truth.

“I wasn’t behind the wheel of the car at the time,” he admitted.

“So it was your girlfriend?” asked Judge Staines.

“It was,” replied Burn.

Burn then changed his plea to one of not guilty and the matter was put back to today (January 15) for the gardaí to investigate further.

“If (the girlfriend) was responsible for it, she can be charged,” ruled the judge.