A young man who drove off in a car that gardaí were in the process of seizing has been disqualified from driving and fined more than €2,000 at Kilkenny District Court.
Evidence was heard that Daniel Harty, 29 College Park, Callan Road, Kilkenny, was charged with careless driving and obstructing or impeding gardaí who were seizing a vehicle, following the incident on August 28, 2019.
Sergeant Morgan O’Connor said gardaí were on mobile patrol at Hebron Road, at 12 noon, when they stopped a car that was being driven by an unaccompanied learner driver.
The car was being seized, and gardaí were waiting for a tow truck, when the driver made phone contact with her boyfriend, Mr Harty.
Mr Harty arrived at the scene, got into the car and “took off at high speed.”
Gardaí saw Mr Harty make “sharp manoeuvres” as he drove away.
The vehicle was later located at College Park.
Sgt O’Connor said Mr Harty drove the car away to prevent gardaí seizing the vehicle and then he parked it at his own address.
There were 19 previous offences recorded against Mr Harty.
Solicitor Chris Hogan said this was a breakdown in communication. Mr Harty’s girlfriend was a novice driver. When she was stopped by gardaí she understood that if a fully licenced driver collected the car it would prevent it being impounded.
First she rang her mother , she was unable to come to the scene so girl rang Mr Harty.
Mr Hogan said the two gardaí were sitting in their van and the young woman was in her car, with the key. Mr Harty didn’t feel he had to engage with the gardaí, the solicitor said.
He accepted his client “may have driven off slightly too fast.” Mr Harty was aware the gardaí were sitting in the van beside him and he believed he was driving at a “reasonable enough speed.”
Gardaí took the vehicle from Mr Harty’s address at 4am.
Mr Hogan said his client did have previous convictions but the offence dated back to 2017 and he had been staying out of trouble.
Mr Harty had hoped to start a business but that hasn't come to fruition because of Covid, the solicitor said. He is currently not working.
Sgt O’Connor said “when gardaí are there to seize a vehicle they are there to seize a vehicle. This is a residential area, to my mind there can be no mistake.”
“You’d think the first thing gardaí would do is seize the keys,” Mr Hogan said.
Judge Geraldine Carthy considered the case over the lunch break. On return to court Mr Hogan said his client did not think he was driving too fast at the time but, thinking about it, he now says he could have driven a bit slower, and wanted to apologise.
Acknowledging that, Judge Carthy convicted Mr Harty of careless driving and imposed a fine of €1500. He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.
An additional fine of €700 was imposed for impeding or obstructing gardaí who were seizing a vehicle.
Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.
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