A man appearing in court for not wearing a seatbelt had his case dismissed after nearly an hour this week (November 25 ), despite calling the summonsing garda “a bare faced liar”.
In court to contest the charge and defend himself, was Oliver Maguire (41 ), with an address at Rathdine Road, Lanesboro, Co Longford.
The court heard from Garda Sean O’Mara how he had stopped Maguire outside the Athlone Institute of Technology at around 5.30pm on June 15 for not wearing his seatbelt.
“I saw him enter the roundabout, on the roundabout and leave the roundabout without having his seatbelt on,” said Garda O’Mara.
Maguire mounted a 40-minute cross-examination in which he claimed the roundabout, the signs on it, the distance between him and the garda, election posters around it, the garda’s motorcycle visor and his position at the roundabout, the colour of Maguire’s clothes and the colour of his van seats would all collude to prove his version of events to be true.
Four times Garda O’Mara repeated how he saw Maguire without a seatbelt and each time Maguire filibustered on any one of the above channels of argument.
Telling the court he was in “very unfamiliar surroundings”, Maguire gave away his viewing habits by using the expression “I put it to you...” every time he asked Garda O’Mara another question.
On at least eight occasions, a very fair Judge John Neilan brought Maguire’s train of questioning back to the relevant, and on at least four occasions, Maguire said: “I don’t want to waste the court’s time”.
When the garda told the judge he could see all of Maguire’s seatbelt, Maguire began to demonstrate how, with the height of the van, the dashboard and the position of the garda, he could only possibly see “at best, half my seatbelt”.
“I could see the buckle over his shoulder,” said Garda O’Mara wearily.
In evidence, it was accepted by Garda O’Mara that when Maguire’s van stopped a short distance further out the Dublin Road, Maguire was wearing his seatbelt but that he put it on between the roundabout and the point of arrest.
“So you’re saying that in that short distance, I checked my mirror to see what was behind me, indicated to pull over, changed down gear, pulled the handbrake and put on my seatbelt?” Maguire asked the garda.
“Yes,” said Garda O’Mara.
It then transpired that Maguire did not have an Irish licence, and the UK licence he carried did not have his correct address on it.
Judge Neilan reasonably pointed out to Maguire that if Garda O’Mara was conducting the witchhunt that Maguire was intimating, wouldn’t it have been quite likely that he would have summonsed him for these misdemeanours, but Maguire wouldn’t accept this.
“I swear to you that Guard misled the courtroom today on a number of questions put to him,” declared Maguire.
“I believe in the Bible but if there’s one thing I believe in more it’s my wife and children, and for him to say he was stopped at the front of the roundabout is a bare-faced lie”.
Earlier in his evidence, Maguire said he noticed a motorbike at the roundabout but said he didn’t notice it as a Garda motorcycle, yet was adamant Garda O’Mara’s evidence as to his position at said roundabout was this “barefaced lie”.
Judge Neilan felt this was an unnecessary slur on the garda’s name and he asked Maguire to temper his remarks.
“I withdraw my comments,” said Maguire.
“If there is a doubt, the defendant must get the benefit of the doubt,” said Judge Neilan, as he dismissed Maguire’s €80 summons.