A MIX-up in dates as given in garda evidence last week saw a charge of failing to give a breath specimen dismissed against a Portlaoise man.
Joseph Ikechukwu, with an address at 49 Ard An Glas, Portlaoise, was charged with committing the offence at Portlaoise Garda Station on May 8 this year.
The arresting officer, Garda Paul Dooley, gave evidence that he observed the defendant driving on the old Dublin Road in Portlaoise at 4.30am on May 7, waving in and out across the white line. After flagging him to stop, Garda Dooley spoke to Ikechukwu but the defendant was reluctant to give the garda his details.
“He just completely stared straight ahead,” said Garda Dooley. “I got closer to him and got the smell of alcohol and I could see that his eyes were red. I requested him to provide a specimen and the test came back a fail.”
Garda Dooley said he formed the opinion that the defendant had consumed alcohol and after cautioning him he brought him to Portlaoise Garda Station.
“He said he had no drink taken, but his words were slurred,” said Garda Dooley.
At the garda station, Garda Aodhan O’Flaithearta conducted the intoxilyser test on Ikechukwu.
Garda O’Flaithearta also took the witness box to give evidence.
Garda O’Flaithearta told the court that Garda Dooley arrived at the garda station at 4.50am on the morning of May 8. After a 20 minute observation period, the garda brought the defendant to the intoxilyser room and entered the relevant details into the machine.
Garda O’Flaithearta said he informed the defendant that he required two specimens of breath, but Ikechukwu failed to form a tight seal around the mouthpiece of the intoxilyser before providing a specimen.
“It was clear he wasn’t forming a tight seal, he was basically blowing around the mouthpiece,” said Garda O’Flaithearta.
The garda said that on three more occasions Ikechukwu failed to form a tight seal on the mouthpiece, until the machine eventually counted down and the time was up. Garda O’Flaithearta explained that this counts as a fail or a refusal.
After both guards had given evidence, defence solicitor, Mr Philip Meagher made a submission to Judge Alan Mitchell. Mr Meagher pointed out that Garda Dooley had given evidence that the offence occurred on May 7, but both Garda O’Flaithearta and the charge sheet said May 8. As such, this made his client’s period in custody illegal.
Inspector Martin Harrington admitted that he had to accept defence counsel’s point.
Judge Mitchell said that he had noticed the error and he dismissed the charge against Ikechukwu.