Learner driver tells court he did not like garda’s tone

A Mountmellick man defending himself on a charge of being an unaccompanied learner driver told the recent district court he did not like the arresting garda’s attitude.

Wayne Rice, with an address at 23 Grove Park, Mountmellick, was charged with being an unaccompanied learner driver, and having no L plates displayed, at Hillview Drive, Knockmay, Portlaoise, on December 27 last year.

He had one previous conviction for the same offence in November.

Garda Derek Barnett gave evidence that he stopped the car on December 27 and spoke to the driver, Wayne Rice, who produced a provisional driving licence.

He also had no learner plates on his car.

Defending himself, Rice initially pleaded not guilty before the district court, telling Judge Catherine Staines that he had an issue with the date and the address listed on the summons.

“The summons is simply a method by which you come to court, it is irrelevant what address is on the summons,” replied Judge Staines. “Do you accept you were stopped driving?”

“I accept I was stopped,” admitted Rice, before going on to declare: “I don’t believe I should have been given that fine.

That car was seized off me, I was doing nothing wrong. I wasn’t driving the car.”

“Once the car has no tax it can be seized,” explained Judge Staines. “I think you should get some legal advice. You’ve driven again without L plates and were unaccompanied.”

“I’m due up again on the same charges, but it’s the wrong date on the summons,” Rice continued, again claiming he had not been stopped on December 27.

Garda Barnett reiterated that he had stopped Rice on that date, and the garda handed his notebook to Judge Staines for her to verify.

“The garda has the time, your name and address, the car’s registration number, and the fact that there were no L plates,” said Judge Staines.

“I didn’t like his tone, his attitude the day I went up to get the car released,” said Rice, with one last attempt at mitigation.

“Any complaints you should go to the garda ombudsman,” said Judge Staines.

The judge noted that he had a previous conviction for the same, and she convicted and fined him €100. She said she would deal with his next set of charges at the appropriate time.


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