independent

Monday 18 December 2017

Jeep crash driver said he only drank after collision

BUT JUDGE DOESN'T BELIEVE HIS STORY

A MOTORIST WHO overturned his jeep blamed the whiskey he drank after the accident for his over-the-limit blood alcohol reading. However, Judge Donnchadh Ó Buachalla was not convinced and he convicted Thomas Leacy of Ballyconnigar in Blackwater, putting him off the road for six years.

Garda Andrea Cullen gave evidence to the court how she was called to Castlellis Cross around 11.10 p.m. on the night of February 27 last year. She and a colleague arrived to find a 2000 Wexford registered vehicle upside down at the scene. She also found a man, who turned out to be Thomas Pitman from Wexford, who had been a passenger in the stricken motor.

He was lying intoxicated on the ground and he refused to say who had been driving. Anthony Leacy then arrived and he recognised the jeep as belonging to his brother Thomas, the accused.

It was after midnight before the Gardaí had finished clearing the scene of the accident and were able to call to 21 Glentire Heights in The Ballagh, where Thomas's sister Margaret resided. The defendant was inside the house and he appeared to be highly intoxicated. He admitted that he had been driving at the time of the accident.

However, he insisted that he did not take alcohol until afterwards, though Garda Cullen could see no evidence of drink in the sitting room of the house. She brought Leacy to the Garda station in Wexford where Doctor Stephen Bowe took a blood sample. Laboratory analysis showed that it had a concentration of 180 mgs. alcohol per 100 millilitres, well above the legal limit for driving.

The accused driver's sister Margaret Murphy gave evidence of finding her brother by the roadside and bringing him home. She told the court that he appeared distressed and complained that his head hurt. He could not remember what had happened, she said, so she gave him whiskey.

Her recollection was that it was poured from a full bottle of Haig, probably received as a present as no-one really drinks in her house. She reckoned that half the contents were gone by the time the Guards arrived.

Anthony Leacy's testimony was that he recognised the jeep and, after talking to Margaret Murphy on the phone he was able to tell the Gardaí that the missing driver was at her home. He arrived there before Garda Cullen and he said he saw Thomas consume two and a half large glasses of whiskey.

Defending solicitor Donal O'Connor was concerned that the evidence about the time of driving was not satisfactory. He also felt that the high blood alcohol reading was due to the whiskey consumed after the accident. However, Judge Ó Buachalla recorded the drink drive conviction.

In setting penalty, he took account of a previous conviction for a similar offence imposed in 2007. A fine of €1,000 was handed down to the part time labourer who looks after his father. Four months were allowed for payment and, in light of his previous record, Leacy was put off the road for six years.

Hit-and-run offences were admitted: Leacy was convicted of failure to remain at the scene of an accident (conviction and fine of €500) and failure to report an accident (conviction and fine of €300).

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