A Portlaoise man who had two children not wearing seat belts in the back of his moving vehicle claimed that one of the children, estimated by a garda to be aged between five and seven, was actually a 14-year-old boy of around five foot in height.
District Court Judge Catherine Staines ruled that she did not accept this version of events from Patrick McInerney (39), 376 Maryborough Village, Portlaoise, who was charged with failing to ensure a child under 17 wore a seat belt, at Lyster Square, Portlaoise, on June 24, 2019.
At last week's sitting of Portlaoise District Court, Garda evidence outlined that the accused was stopped at Lyster Square, Portlaoise, on June 24, 2019.
There were two children in the back seat of the vehicle unrestrained. Garda Crowe said a fixed penalty notice was issued in relation to one of the children.
Defence, Mr Philip Meagher said the journey had just started when the garda met the defendant.
The defendant himself told the court that he had just pulled out from the shop.
He said the children in the back were in their teens, but Garda Crowe said this was incorrect and the children had been aged five and seven.
Mr Meagher repeated his client’s claim that the children were 16 and 14 and said the accused was adamant he didn’t have children younger than that in the car.
However Garda Crowe said the accused had told him they were younger than that.
“They looked young,” said Garda Crowe.
The accused gave sworn evidence in the witness box that he had a 17-year-old in the front and a 14-year-old in the back.
He said there were no other children in the car.
He denied telling the garda that the children had been five and seven.
He also said he did not recall the garda asking the children’s ages on the day.
In response to cross-examination from the State, the witness said that the 14-year-old in the back had been a boy of around five foot one or five foot two in height.
After hearing the case, Judge Catherine Staines said she accepted the garda’s evidence.
The accused was convicted and fined €100 and disqualified from driving for three months.
Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.