A man charged with intent to drink-drive has been acquitted after he was found behind the wheel with the car running and his foot on the accelerator which caused “revving” from the vehicle.
John Huane, with an address at Knockadoon, Irishtown, Claremorris, Mayo was charged at Kilkenny District Court under Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act.
The alleged offence – which was dismissed by Judge Colin Daly – occurred at Coach Road, Kilkenny on February 26 of last year.
The court heard that on the night in question Gardaí were on patrol and heard “revving” coming from a vehicle with the driver sitting upright with his seat belt on and the dash lights on.
Giving evidence, the Garda who came upon the vehicle said he observed that the vehicle was turned on, the keys were in the ignition, the lights were on and the radio was on.
He observed a male behind the vehicle who was “in and out of sleep” and could see the Garda knocking on the window but was not responding.
The Garda formed the opinion that there was “strong intent he [the defendant] was going to drive the vehicle”.
At 4.09am the Garda formed the opinion that the driver was incapable of having proper control of the vehicle. Mr Huane was arrested and at a Garda station he opted to provide a blood sample which yielded a result of 199 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Solicitor for the defendant, Chris Hogan, asked if it was a cold night on the date in question and the Garda said he recalled wearing a shirt himself but Mr Hogan said it was “generally cold in February”.
The court heard that Mr Huane came from Mayo after work on Saturday to join friends – who arrived the day before – for 30th birthday party celebrations.
Mr Hogan said Coach Rd was near to Parliament Street where his client – while Mr Huane had made no booking – was planning on staying in a friend’s room at a hostel after the friend booked in for two nights but was heading home early.
He said his client’s car was parked on a hill going up to St Canice’s Cathedral and Mr Huane’s foot was “accidentally on the accelerator” and the heating was on and his client’s mobile phone was plugged in and charging.
Mr Huane said the night finished up around 3am and when he was leaving he could not find anyone. “I was freezing. I just had a T-shirt on me. I fell asleep waiting for the phone to charge. I was in a deep sleep.
“The Garda asked me to blow a sample and I said I’m asthmatic,” he told the court. Mr Huane was in college in UCD at the time and planned on driving back to Dublin on Sunday evening for college on Monday.
Speaking in court, he added: “My intention was to charge my phone. It was my first time ever in Kilkenny, I didn’t know the place.”
The State prosecution put it to Mr Huane that it was his intention to drive home – wherever that was – be that in Claremorris or in Dublin.
The State said the defendant could not find his friends, he had not booked a place to stay and it was his intent to drive home.
Mr Hogan said the charge could be rebutted if there is a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s intent and added that his client was “simply sheltering in the car”.
Judge Daly said he was satisfied that there was a reasonable doubt and in his ruling he factored in the defendant’s proximity to the hostel.
He added that “what you [Mr Huane] did was not the cleverest thing you could do”.
Judge Daly said it was a salutary lesson and acquitted Mr Huane of the charge.