A member of the Travelling community claimed she was being victimised when the gardaí stopped her for having an unrestrained child in her vehicle.
Portlaoise Circuit Court heard that Chantelle O’Reilly (23), Mountrath, was driving on July 22, 2016, when she spotted Garda Michael Carey and turned into a housing estate, where she and a number of other people accused the garda of victimising her.
Evidence was given in a recent appeal O’Reilly brought before the court, against a driving disqualification she received in the district court.
State solicitor, Mr Donal Dunne said that the appellant had received fines of €300 and €100 and been disqualified from driving for three months, for having no tax and for not having a child restrained in the vehicle.
At the appeal, Garda Carey told the court that he observed the appellant driving with a child in the back seat unrestrained. He said it was a young boy he saw in the back.
“The child was leaning up against the back seat looking out,” said Garda Carey.
The garda also issued an on the spot fine for having no tax.
Solicitor, Mr Philip Meagher said that there had been a number of children in the car and there was a booster seat with a back on it, but the child was able to undo himself.
He said that the children got upset on the day when their mother was stopped by the garda, but Garda Carey replied that they were more upset by the appellant’s demeanour toward the garda.
“She said she was being victimised as there had been an incident the day before as well,” said Garda Carey, explaining that the appellant was a member of the Travelling community.
He said that on the day the appellant spotted the garda and turned down into a housing estate. Garda Carey followed, but then a number of people approached him and accused him of victimising the appellant.
Mr Meagher said his client had not met the charge in the district court as she had not received the fine nor the summons.
“She has a number of sisters in the house, perhaps one of them accepted it and didn’t pass it on,” offered defence.
Mr Meagher said that the appellant had two children with a third on the way and her husband was off the road, so it falls to her to bring the children to school.
He said that all the passengers had been restrained at the start of the journey and the accused didn’t notice when the child got free.
Mr Meagher said the appellant should have noticed and she had a duty of care and responsibility.
Judge Keenan Johnson said it was grossly inappropriate for the child not to be restrained, as if there were an accident the child would effectively become a missile.
As the appellant had no previous convictions, Judge Johnson said he would remove the driving disqualification, if she donated €300 to the local branch of the St Vincent de Paul.