A 34-year-old South African man who was arrested on the suspicion of drink driving after he was observed driving carelessly — whereby he pulled his car out in front of a garda car — and later refused to provide a sample, was disqualified from driving for four years at Castlebar District Court on Wednesday.
Sergeant Kieran Lavelle outlined that on September 20 2008 at 2am while on patrol in an unmarked Garda car on Bridge Street, Castlebar, a green Toyota Starlet exited Hoban’s Car Park in an erratic manner — it was nearly fully out on Bridge Street before it checked to see if there was any traffic coming. The car, driven by Melusi Sheppard, 115 Knockaphunta Park, Castlebar, was followed and the Garda car activated its lights and sirens. The defendant’s car picked up speed before it pulled into the left on Ellison Street.
Sheppard was arrested on suspicion of drink driving but at the Garda station he refused to give a sample of blood or urine. Sgt Lavelle said that the defendant was argumentative and aggressive and would not allow the doctor to take his blood, but requested his own doctor. No sample was taken. On release, Sheppard was confrontational to Sgt Lavelle and a number of gardaí had to remove him and his friend from the station.
Solicitor for the defendant Aidan Crowley said that earlier that night Sheppard had spoken to gardaí after an incident at Mantra nightclub and asked Sgt Lavelle if he considered that his client was under the influence at that stage, as Mr Crowley said that his client told him that he does not drink. Sgt Lavelle said that he thought he was under the influence at that stage and was directed to leave the area by gardaí, which he did on foot.
Mr Crowley said that the defendant claims that he was strip searched that night; the Sgt said that did not happen, just a routine search. The defence solicitor said that his client refused to give blood that night as he has a blood disorder and carries a card in his wallet which refers to this. This card was handed into Judge Mary Devins.
Sheppard, who is unemployed, married, and a father of three, has been in Ireland since 2004 and has no previous convictions. He told the court that he did not have any drink that night and that he offered to give breath or urine samples. Judge Devins said that the card which was handed into the court does not have any name or address on it and just states that the carrier might develop an allergic reaction, and this was not a reason for refusal.
Judge Devins convicted and fined the defendant €750 and disqualified him from driving for four years. For careless driving the defendant was convicted and fined €250. Sheppard did not accept the judgement made and caused a scene before he was removed by gardaí.