A Knock man was disqualified for four years for dangerous driving at Claremorris District Court this week, but had a drink driving charge against him dismissed by Judge John Coughlan. Ivan Merrick, Ballyhowley, Knock, had pleaded not guilty to both the dangerous driving and drink driving charge.
Garda Peter Sarsfield reported that on December 6 2009 he and a colleague were on duty in the patrol car in Claremorris just before 4.30am, when they passed by the entrance to the SuperValu car park in the town. Noticing a number of men walking into the car park, he and his colleague went to investigate. As the patrol car went back towards the entrance to the car park, a car pulled out of it at high speed and turned right, proceeded to go back down town and turn right, again failing to stop at a stop sign.
Garda Sarsfield said they followed the car down the bog road and activated the lights and the siren, but the car turned out on to the N17 before it pulled over. There was a lot of smoke coming from the car and it was being driven in a jerky fashion. He spoke to the driver who he recognised to be Ivan Merrick, who he said told him that he saw the patrol car and decided to make a run for it. Garda Sarsfield said he got Merrick to take a roadside breath test, which he failed, and he then arrested him for drunk driving before bringing him back to Claremorris Garda Station. At the station Merrick opted to give a urine sample but after he failed to be able to provide it he gave his consent to give a blood sample, and this was duly taken by the doctor called to the station. Garda Sarsfield told the court that he offered one of the samples to Merrick, which he refused to take and when the results came back it gave a reading of 117mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Defence solicitor Cathy McDarby asked Garda Sarsfield if he was sure that her client refused to take one of the blood samples, which he confirmed. Ms McDarby then proceeded to produce one of the blood samples that was taken on the night which her client had indeed taken. In his evidence Merrick told the court that at no time was he driving dangerously and that he could see any oncoming traffic if any was coming because they would have headlights on.
Judge John Coughlan dismissed the drink driving charge against Merrick but convicted him of dangerous driving, disqualifying him from driving for four years and fining him €400.