Youth: 'I didn't intend to drive'
A YOUNG MAN arrested for being drunk in control of a car in Tesco car park told Wexford District Court that he had no intention of driving and was just sitting in the car with his friends to escape the rain.
Eoghan French, aged 19, of Brownstown, Cleariestown, pleaded not guilty to being drunk in charge of a vehicle at Distillery Road on November 14, 2009, but was convicted of the offence by Judge Donnchadh O Buachalla.
He was fined €500 and disqualified from driving for two years and one day by Judge O Buachalla. Recognizances were fixed in the event of an appeal.
Garda Madeleine Holmes arrested the defendant after seeing him in his car with a group of friends and got a strong smell of alcohol from his breath. When she asked him for the keys, she saw that they were in his hand.
When he subsequently gave a breath sample at Wexford Garda Station, the reading was 53 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.
In response to counsel for the defendant, Garda Holmes said the windows of the car were down and there was no key in the ignition when she arrived. The accused made no attempt to hide the alcohol.
In court, the defendant said he drove into town to go to a nightclub with friends and arranged for his mother to pick him up. He left the car in Tesco car park. He later rang his mother to tell her he was staying in town with a friend but when the friend telephoned his own mother, it turned out that it wasn't OK to stay there. By this time, it was too late to ring his mother back and ask her for a lift.
The group of friends collected cans they had stashed on the quayfront and when it started to rain, they decided to go and sit in his car while ringing other friends to see if they could get somewhere to stay.
He told the court that his keys were in his back pocket when Garda Holmes approached. He added that it was not his intention to drive that night.
Katie Smith, who was in the car that night, said she knew Eoghan and he would not have driven after drinking. If he couldn't get a lift or somewhere to stay, he would have slept in the car.
Cormac Lawlor, whose house the defendant was supposed to stay in, also testified on his behalf.
His counsel applied for the case to be struck out, saying the car wasn't activated in any way and there was no evidence of any intention to drive.
Inspector Pat McDonald said he didn't accept this as he was sitting in the car, clearly intoxicated, and had the keys in his hand.
The judge found the facts proven. The defendant had no previous convictions.