first_imgNewsLocal NewsTraffic corps garda avoids criminal convictionBy admin – November 8, 2012 676 Linkedin IN HIS judgement, Judge O’Kelly said: “Mr O’Shaughnessy has paid €3,500 through the court poor box. This follows my findings on September 13 that his motor car was used on two occasions in May 2011 with neither tax nor a valid NCT.“AT the time of the hearing, the loss of revenue to the State was €64. I suggested the amount be paid to the court poor box.“Mr O’Shaughnessy comes before the court entitled to be treated in a manner similar to any other accused person and can expect to have his case disposed of by me in a consistent fashion.“In the range of offences which the court must deal with, these are at the lower end of the scale and are matters that would not ordinarily  excite the attention of the national press and media.“The distinguishing feature of this case is the nature of Mr O’Shaughnessy’s employment. He is a serving member of An Garda Siochana. He is attached to a specialist unit, the traffic corp, and as such has a particular responsibility to enforce compliance with the very laws that he has been in breach of.“It is safe to say that in this or any other week, dozens of people find themselves before the court on similar charges. Their cases are imposed of one way or another without the offenders becoming a national news item.“The public may have little sympathy for Mr O’Shaughnessy’s plight. Indeed many who might consider that his actions were borne out of an arrogance, which of his employment, may simply say ‘how dare he’ or ‘serves him right’.“I must however consider the matter in a more reasoned way. Mr O’Shaughnessy omissions may not be the result of arrogance and misguided belief that he was above the law but he may have more to do with momentary oversight, casual carelessness or temporary financial pressure.“People find themselves in such situations all the time and very often for a first offence get a gentle but firm warning form a detecting garda to get their house in order.“Even if such a humane warning is given but ignored, and the matter appears in court and the deficiencies attended to, a garda may ask the court to strike out the charges.“Such an opportunity was not afforded Mr O’Shaughnessy. Indeed, unusually for a traffic violation, he was not asked for an explanation of the matter until the following Autumn when it appears the allegations were first put to him and no explanation was given for this delay.“Mr O’Shaughnessy was questioned about the matter after the detections. People cannot be expected to recollect what they were doing at a specific time on a  given, but otherwise uneventful date, with the same degree of precision that they might have if questioned within hours or days of the detections.“Mr O’Shaughnessy was left to rely on reference to his work diary in which his duty rostering had been written up in advance. People make mistakes and recollections often become less accurate with the passing of time.“Indeed it became evident during  the course of cross-examination that the prosecuting inspector had made a mistaken entry in his own notebook as to the time of detection of the offence on May 9. I mention this not to embarrass the inspector in any way, but simply to highlight that errors in recording and recollection do occur.“Persons appearing before the court must be treated fairly and consistently. Those found to be driving without tax or NCT attract penalties that could not be regarded as excessive or unreasonable.“Certainly their employment is not put in jeopardy. There would understandably be public disgust if such an exceptional and unwarranted result flowed from such a conviction yet in this case, Supt Flavin has stated to the court that a conviction will result in disciplinary action and have implications for Garda O’Shaughnessy’s career.“It is not the court’s business to interfere with an internal garda disciplinary matter, but I must have regard to what Supt Flavin has told me. I also note from the prosecution that the State acknowledges that Garda O’Shaughnessy is a highly experienced officer with an exemplary work record. He comes before the court with no prior convictions. I am told he is a married man with a young family.“Mr O’Shaughnessy has been embarrassed, humiliated and ridiculed. He has been identified and shamed nationally for an offence for which others could expect total anonymity or, at worst, local notoriety. His house has been daubed with the most obscene and vulgar graffiti. His wife and family are entirely innocent and there should not be familial association.“He has been financially punished by my directing a poor box contribution of €3,500 which is a severe, if not excessive, penalty but intentionally disproportionate to the penalty other persons receive. Mr O’Shaughnessy has paid that sum in the legitimate expectation that I would act consistently, and treat him the same as I would all others I have requested poor box contributions from. Accordingly, in all the circumstances and having considered the mitigating and aggravating factors of this case, it is fair and equitable to strike out these charges.” Print JUDGE Eugene O’Kelly has struck out two motoring offences against a serving member of the Limerick Garda traffic corps after a payment of €3,500 was made to the court poor box. Garda Michael O’Shaughnessy was found to have driven his car on two occasions in May 2011 without valid tax or NCT certification adjacent to Henry Street Garda Station where he is stationed. Having found the facts of the case proven at Limerick District Court in September, Judge O’Kelly deferred judgement until the end of October to allow the defendant make a payment to the court poor box.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up At last week’s sitting of the court, Mr O’Shaughnessy avoided criminal conviction after receipt of the payment to the Society of St Vincent de Paul was shown to the court.Defending solicitor Dan O’Gorman said that after the initial hearing, Mr O’Shaughnessy’s house had been targeted with graffiti. It had since become a security issue at his home. He requested that his client’s home address would not be published again.Judge O’Kelly said that Garda  O’Shaughnessy’s employment had attracted “national press and media attention”. Twitter Advertisement Facebook Email Previous articleThinking Big about mental healthNext articlePensioner rewarded young boys he abused admin WhatsApplast_img

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