Monday 11 December 2017

Failed appeal leaves accountant off road


AN ACCOUNTANT and former nursing home director failed in his appeal against a drink driving conviction at Wexford Circuit Court.

Michael Paul Gahan, Monamolin, was banned for three years and fined €2,500 in the District Court on a charge of drink driving at Redmond Square on January 19, 2008.

Last week, he appeared before Judge Barry Hickson in the Circuit Court to appeal the conviction. After a lengthy hearing, the Judge turned down his appeal and affirmed the disqualification order but reduced the fine to €500.

Judge Hickson accepted that the defendant had been under enormous pressure and said he was to be commended for turning hif life around.

But he said he consumed an awful lot of drink that night and put himself and other citizens in danger.

After his arrest, the defendant gave a urine sample which showed a concentration of 318 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine.

During the appeal, the defendant said that after the urine sample was taken, he was not offered one of the containers by a garda, as required by law.

'Being an accountant, I don't take things at face value. I would have taken it and had it verified independently.'

He said he was very clear that he wasn't offered the sample or a yellow record slip which he was also entitled to receive.

However, Judge Hickson said he 'preferred' the evidence of the garda. The defendant's counsel Liam Stafford B.L. also raised other legal issues including a discrepancy in relation to the date on which the urine sample was posted to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. But Judge Hickson said he was satisfied the act had been complied with.

During cross-examination, the State Solicitor Kevin O' Doherty asked the defendant if he still drank.

He replied that he didn't and that he went to Aiseiri two months after the drink driving incident. He said he drank as a coping mechanism during the time that the nursing home was in difficulty.

He said he would be five years off the drink in March 2013.

Asked by Mr. O' Doherty if he would accept that he was 'appalling drunk' that night, he said he would accept that he was intoxicated. Before the hearing of the appeal, the defendant's barrister had applied for a dismissal of the case on the grounds that the defendant had been prejudiced by a delay in prosecuting.

Mr. Stafford said there were system delays at the District Court stage and his client was prejudiced because of them.

In evidence, the defendant said there was a delay from the date of the offence in January 2008 up to the hearing in 2010.

The pressure and stress during that time was severe and affected him badly.

He told the court that he now held the position of Chief Financial Officer of the AirconMech group and needed his driving licence as the job required a lot of travelling.

' Three years ago, I was lucky to get my feet back on the ground after a troublesome period in my life, following the failure of the nursing home primarily,' he said.

The father-of-six said his family is his priority and he just wanted to look after them Not having a driving licence would make this impossible.

Judge Hickson postponed the disqualification order to January 9, on condition that the defendant contact his insurance company.

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