05 Jul 2022

Judge orders arrest of Midlands man who phoned ambulance in court


A man phoned an ambulance for himself during the middle of a court hearing in Longford this evening


A judge yesterday ordered the arrest of a banned motorist who phoned an ambulance for himself in the middle of a court hearing which subsequently found him guilty of a string of road traffic offences.

Judge Seamus Hughes issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Kenneth McCaffrey (46), The Square, Clara, Co Offaly after he appeared accused of dangerous driving, no insurance and being at the wheel without a license arising from an incident at Main Street, Ballymahon, Co Longford on March 9, 2017.

Mr McCaffrey, who pleaded not guilty and represented himself, accused the court of a "rushed judgement" after attempting to take issue with over 30 different items of disclosure made available by the prosecution.

When Judge Hughes dismissed a number of issues raised by Mr McCaffrey, the accused hit out at Judge Hughes by insisting his case was not being given due process.

"I think you are biased and giving me no opportunity," he told the judge.

"I need time to go through it. I need time to go through the video evidence."

The court heard how CCTV footage allegedly showing Mr McCaffrey at a Ballymahon filling station moments before the alleged incident had been posted to him in the lead up to this evening's hearing.

"Are you calling me a liar?" Mr McCaffrey questioned Judge Hughes, claiming he had only flown in from the UK less than 24 hours previously.

Moments after handing in documentation to show his insurance details were in order and that the case would be proceeding with or without his consent, Mr McCaffrey suddenly began clutching his chest.

"I need water," he said, as Inspector Paddy McGirl implied he believed Mr McCaffrey's unexpected bout of illness was "an act".

"Well, let's go to the doctor and see what the doctor has to say," replied Mr McCaffrey under muffled breath from the body of the court.

Judge Hughes, in response, indicated he would rise for five minutes to afford gardaí a chance to contact Dr Mary Ward, a GP Mr McCaffrey cited he was a patient of.

When the case resumed Inspector McGirl informed the court Dr Ward was no longer in situ at the practise identified by Mr McCaffrey and would not be in a position to release any information in relation to Mr McCaffrey's medical history.

Attempts to make Mr McCaffrey aware of those revelations came up short when Inspector McGirl returned to the courtroom to indicate the accused was on the phone and in the process of ringing an ambulance.

Evidence was provided back inside the courtroom by Garda Aiden Lenehan who said he had been on parked in an unmarked patrol car in Ballymahon at around 4:30pm.

He said his attention was drawn to a black Audi Q7 which had just been washed with its front driver's window down.

"He (defendant) stared at me, continued to stare at me and looked backwards while driving forwards," said the garda.

In noting the "very peculiar" behaviour of the driver, Garda Lenehan observed the vehicle's registration number seconds before it swiftly took off at high speed.

"The car then crossed a white line, forcing oncoming traffic to take evasive action."

Garda Lenehan said he attempted to take off in pursuit of the high powered jeep but was unable to stay with its driver as it sped through Ballymahon's Main Street and out the Ballymore road.

"Even with my flashing lights and sirens, I couldn't keep up, he was gone like a light," said Garda Lenehan.

He added his recollection of seeing the freshly washed car led him to seek CCTV footage from Nally's Garage in Ballymahon.

Garda Lenehan said from those examinations, he identified the man alleged to be Mr McCaffrey driving off from its forecourt.

Despite still not knowing who Mr McCaffrey was at the time, he said he received confirmation over the accused man's identity from Inspector Frank Finn who later made an official statement on the matter.

He would also reveal from his own inquiries how Mr McCaffrey was not a patient of Dr Ward's in Clara, a practise she had moved to over five years ago.

In delivering his verdict, Judge Hughes said he was in no doubt the case would come before a higher court given how Mr McCaffrey had sought to "frustrate" the court in its execution of justice.

He also said he did not believe Mr McCaffrey's unanticipated turn was "bona fide" as hear about Mr McCaffrey's criminal past.

Inspector McGirl said the accused had 62 previous convictions, seven of which were for no insurance.

A seven year disqualification, he added, had been handed down at Tullamore Circuit Court in March 2013.

Judge Hughes said whatever about the "unusual matrix" to the case, he was of the firm belief both he and the court were on "solid ground" in issuing a bench warrant for Mr McCaffrey's arrest upon his release from hospital.

The accused is likely to appear at a subsequent court sitting for the purposes of sentencing.

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