A drunk Mervue man crashed his Transit van into a tractor and refused to give a sample of breath at University Hospital Galway (UHG ) before telling a garda to “f*** off”, the Galway District Court heard this week.
Patrick O’Connell, with an address at 54 St James’ Crescent, Mervue, was summoned to appear in court for dangerous driving at Ballindooley Cross on August 27, 2008, and for failure to comply with the requirement of a breath sample at UHG on the same date.
The driver of the tractor, John Keane, told the hearing last Wednesday that he had been driving from Menlo towards Ballindooley Cross when a van came towards him and hit his vehicle. “He was on the same side of the road as me and went straight into me,” said Mr Keane.
Under cross-examination by defence solicitor Valerie Corcoran, Mr Keane said that the impact occurred past a bend and that he had been stationary when he was hit. When Ms Corcoran put it to him that the insurance company rated it as “50/50 liability”, Mr Keane replied that he didn’t accept that because it was the defendant who was on the wrong side of the road. He added that he had paid for the repairs to his vehicle.
Garda Claire Burke then gave evidence that she observed a Ford Transit van on the right hand side of the road directly in front of a tractor. She found the defendant sitting in the van and she detected a strong smell of alcohol from his breath and his speech was slurred. A demand was made of him to produce documents which he did not have. He was taken away to UHG and when she arrived at 10.20pm there was again a strong smell of alcohol and she formed the opinion that O’Connell had been drink driving. The Garda doctor was then called to the hospital and a demand was made for the defendant to provide a sample of either blood or urine. O’Connell first consented to giving blood but when the doctor attempted to take the sample, Garda Burke said that the defendant became aggressive, starting shouting and refused. When Garda Burke made the demand for a sample again the defendant said: “I am refusing to give the sample, f*** off.”
Judge Mary Fahy noted that there was no mention of Garda Burke informing the defendant that a refusal to give a sample could mean a disqualification of four years. She said that if a person refuses, then that person has to be warned of the consequences of that. Judge Fahy added that she would have to convict the defendant for the dangerous driving but that she needed time to consider the whole case. The case was adjourned to October 13.