A Laois man banned from driving for 25 years who claimed a case of mistaken identity when he was charged with driving on the roads in November last has been given a three-month sentence having been found guilty by Portlaoise District Court.
Before last week’s court was Sean Coss with an address at Clonamore House, Arden Road, Tullamore.
Garda Rabbitte gave evidence that he was operating a garda checkpoint on November 25 when he observed a car with the front headlight not working, so he signalled for the car to stop.
He said the car then drove out across the white line, passing out another vehicle at speed, and headed out the Ridge Road.
Garda Rabbitte said he had a clear view of the driver, who was Sean Coss.
The garda said that he subsequently stopped the accused driving on November 28 and found there was no tax or NCT on the vehicle.
Garda Alan Dunford gave evidence that when the accused was stopped on November 28, he had no licence or insurance.
Garda Dunford said that when it was put to the accused that he had been driving on November 25, the accused replied: “I was driving no car.”
Defence, Mr Aonghus McCarthy made a submission to the court at this point, saying that neither garda had given evidence of the authorisation they had to set up the checkpoint on the night.
However, Judge Staines said that this was not a drink driving case, with the accused charged with having no insurance, tax, NCT or licence.
She said the gardaí had signalled for the accused to stop as the headlight on the car was not working.
Mr McCarthy repeated that if the garda identification had taken place at a checkpoint, the checkpoint would have to be properly authorised.
Judge Staines replied that if one were to follow this argument to its conclusion, the gardaí would be unable to prosecute someone observed driving at huge speed unless a checkpointwas set up.
The accused then gave evidence, saying he had never driven the car in question.
He admitted that he already had a lot of convictions for motoring offences, but said he had never owned the car.
In cross examination, Sgt Kirby asked the accused had he ever come before the two gardaí before.
The accused replied he had.
“So they would know you,” replied Sgt Kirby.
Mr McCarthy put it to the court that it had been 1.15am and dark at the time. He said that the court was familiar with the accused, who he admitted had “one of the worst road traffic records.”
Mr McCarthy said the accused had dealt with other matters before the court just the previous week where he was disqualified from driving for 25 years, so there was no reason for him to lie.
Judge Staines said that both gardaí knew the accused and she was convinced it had been him.
Sgt Kirby told the court the accused had 32 previous convictions for no insurance and is currently serving a ten-month sentence.
Judge Staines imposed a three-month sentence on the no insurance charge and disqualified the accused from driving for 25 years, with other charges taken into consideration.
Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.