A serving member of An Garda Siochana was convicted of careless driving at last week’s sitting of Carrick-on-Shannon Court after the patrol car he was driving was involved in a serious accident with Nodlaig Geraghty on March 1, 2016.
Imposing a conviction and a €500 fine Judge Kevin P Kilrane said he accepted Philip Weafer, c/o Roscommon Garda Station, Abbey St, Roscommon was travelling at an excessive speed at Treanagry on the N61 between Boyle and Tulsk. He said that “The evidence of Ms Geraghty is cogent and unshakeable. The defendant was driving much too fast.”
Evidence was given by Ms Geraghty that she finished work in Sligo on the date in question at 5.10pm and was driving towards Boyle and then on towards Elphin.
She recalled travelling along the N61 when she observed a patrol car in the distance travelling at “A very high speed. I was in a high vehicle so I could see above the hedges.”
Recalling the collision Ms Geraghty said, “I pulled over as much as I could and went around the bend.
“I saw the car, then I saw the driver, then bang.” In her evidence Ms Geraghty said her car was pushed back into a dyke.
She added, “I thought to myself straight away he’s not going to make that bend. I saw him come over to my side, then bang.
I was jammed into a ditch.” She noted that after the collision her feet were in “excruciating pain,” and her chest was sore.
Continuing her evidence Ms Geraghty recalled, “The Garda got out of his car. He was very distressed. He called out to me ‘are you ok? Are you alright?’ I was shouting ‘I knew you wouldn’t make that bend’.”
The injured party was helped from her vehicle by two men who had stopped following the accident.
Under cross-examination from Breffni Gordon BL, Ms Geraghty said she had been travelling that road for over 12 years and had reduced her speed to 30kph before entering the bend.
She also noted that the blue lights on the squad car had not been activated.
In her statements and under cross-examination Ms Geraghty estimated the speed of Mr Weafer's vehicle as he approached the bend to be between 100kph and 140kph.
It was put to Ms Geraghty that the defendant had reduced his speed as he approached the bend by dropping through the gears.
In reply Ms Geraghty said, “I 100% dispute that. As he came up to the bend, in my opinion, he never reduced his speed. I braked and pulled in as far as I could on my side of the road.”
It was put to Ms Geraghty that her husband, Ignatius, was involved in an argument with a Sergeant at the scene to which she replied, “yeah.”
Sgt Christopher Brown gave evidence saying he was investigating the matter prior to the GSOC taking over.
He recalled the road was blocked by two artic trucks when he arrived and he walked to the scene at 6.15pm.
“The first thing I could see was the patrol car across the road and the other vehicle in the grass verge.”
When asked if he could establish a point of contact, Sgt Brown replied, “No.”
Sgt Brown recalled both the defendant and the injured party were complaining of pains and an ambulance was summoned for both.
Sgt Brown said he took measurements, took photos and had the two vehicles removed.
When asked about a row with Mr Geraghty at the roadside Sgt Brown replied, “I have been involved in a lot of rows.
“What happened on the side of the road I wouldn’t describe it as a row. Mr Geraghty was concerned for his wife. People were emotional.”
Under cross-examination from Mr Gordon, Sgt Brown said, “I didn’t determine a point of impact because I didn’t complete the investigation.”
He added, “It was a significant impact.”
Interviews given by Mr Weafer to both An Garda Siochana and GSOC were read in court in which the defendant stated he was not exceeding the speed limit of 100kph. He also said he did not cross the white line in the centre of the road.
Having heard the State case Judge Kilrane remarked, “There is a case to be met. An accident should not have occurred on the centre median. It is careless to enter a bend by riding the centre line of the roadway.”
Judge Kilrane added, “The civilian witness make the point the defendant was driving at hugely excessive speed. Your client makes no reference to the speed of the other vehicle.”
The court heard Mr Weafer is a 40-year-old father of three and has no previous convictions.
Judge Kilrane ruled as outlined and no disqualification from driving was imposed.
The State was represented by Peter Jones solicitor.