Former Labour TD, Michael McNamara has won his appeal against a conviction for dangerous driving against him on the same night that he was pepper sprayed by a Garda.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys said that he has “a reasonable doubt” over the case against Mr McNamara after saying that he couldn’t consider the speed or driving by Mr McNamara (44) on the night as dangerous.
Judge Keys said that the expert evidence presented to court on behalf of Mr McNamara showed that Mr McNamara could not have been going at high speeds around the bends in question “as he wouldn’t have got around those corners at high speed”.
Judge Keys ruling overturns the dangerous driving conviction imposed on Mr McNamara by Judge John King at the district court in January that came with an automatic two year driving ban.
Mr McNamara has served no time off the road as the case has been under appeal.
At the district court Judge King dismissed an accompanying charge against Mr McNamara that he had obstructed a Garda in the course of his duties on the same date outside his home after being pursued by a Garda car to his home.
Michael McNamara told the district court that he was “utterly and completely shocked” when pepper sprayed by a Garda outside his home in December 2016.
In relation to the appeal against the dangerous driving charge, Mr McNamara told the circuit court that it was ‘incorrect’ to state that his driving was dangerous on the night.
He said: “I have driven on that road since I was 17 and I don’t think you could take those bends at more than 50kmph.”
Mr McNamara was driving the 1.1km distance from Scarriff to his home at Tobernagath, Scarriff at 2.05am on December 10th 2016.
Under cross-examination from State Solicitor, Martin Linnane, Mr McNamara said that he didn’t hear the siren of the Garda car in pursuit as he was playing quite loudly a CD from ‘Oliver’.
Mr McNamara said that he was listening to the CD as he was trying to learn the lines as he had a part in an Oliver musical.
Mr McNamara said that it wasn’t safe to stop for the Garda car on the road before pulling in at his home at Tobernagath.
In evidence, Garda Darren McLoughlin told the court that in the 80kmph zone leading out of Scarriff, he was doing 100kmph in order to keep up with Mr McNamara’s car.
He said that in the bends that followed during the pursuit on the narrow road “at all times, I found it very hard to maintain control of the car going around the corners”.
Garda McLoughlin said that he didn’t know what speed that Mr McNamara was going around the corners “but I found it very hard to maintain control of the patrol car”.
Judge Keys said that his ruling in the case wasn’t a criticism of Garda McLoughlin stating that Garda McLoughlin was carrying out his duties on the night.
In the case, Mr McNamara retained a three-member strong legal team, led by David Sutton SC to make the appeal along with an expert witness.
The expert witness who appeared on behalf of Mr McNamara, Consulting Engineer, Gerald O’Keeffe told the court that he examined the road and found that if you didn’t go at the speeds or less that he had driven at around the bends, you would go off the road.
Mr O’Keeffe said that the maximum you could drive around the first bend was 69kmph.
Mr O’Keeffe said that the second bend “I had to drop down to a speed of 40kmph otherwise I would have gone out of control into ditch at the other side”.
Mr O’Keeffe said that on another bend, you couldn’t drive over 55kmph and on the other bends, you would slow down to 40kmph and 60kmph.