Gardai discovered a man sitting in a parked jeep with the lights on and engine running at an old pub car park in Aghacashel, Co Leitrim.
Appearing before Carrick-on-Shannon District Court was David McKeon, Aghacashel, Co Leitrim on a plea of not guilty to being drunk in charge of a vehicle on November 25, 2019 at Liscarbin, Aghacashel.
Garda Conor Redahan said he was on patrol on that date at 12.48am and noticed a stationary silver Landcruiser jeep parked at Liscarbin, Aughacashel.
Garda Redahan said the engine was running and its headlights were on. He said there was a male slouched over in the jeep. He knocked on the window but got no answer and then opened the door.
He said there was a strong smell of alcohol in the jeep. He asked the man his name and he replied ‘Mickey’. The garda asked him his name several times and then he eventually said it was David McKeon from Aghacashel. He asked him his date of birth and he repeatedly said it was 02 09 022.
Garda Redahan said Mr McKeon had bloodshot eyes, there was a strong smell of alcohol from his breath, his speech was slurred and his answers were slow. He said Mr McKeon seemed a bit confused and was unsure where he was.
Mr McKeon told the garda he was only going up the road. Asked where he had been drinking, he replied Drumshanbo but would not elaborate on it.
Garda Redahan formed his opinion and arrested Mr McKeon and took him to Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station.
Solicitor, John McNulty, asked Garda Redahan what the distance was from Mr McKeon’s jeep to his house. He replied that it was under half a kilometre.
Asked if Mr McKeon understood what was going on, the garda said he thought he did understand but perhaps didn’t understand the gravity of the situation he found himself in.
Mr McNulty said Mr McKeon had been drinking in Drumshanbo and was parked up as he couldn’t face going home and the jeep “was his bed for the night.”
Garda Redahan said the jeep was pulled in where the Mountain Tavern used to be, the engine was running and the lights were shining out onto the road.
Garda Gavin Burke gave evidence of taking a breath sample from Mr McKeon which subsequently showed a reading of 97/100. He said Mr McKeon was compliant throughout.
David McKeon told the court he had a row with his wife earlier that day and went to Drumshanbo “for a few pints”. He bought a bottle of whiskey in the pub and brought it with him to the old Mountain Tavern car park. He didn’t want to go home and cause more trouble at that hour.
He said he was drinking the whiskey and had the engine running as it was cold and he fell asleep. Mr McKeon said he intended to stay the night in the jeep and move it in the morning.
Inspector Emmet Treacy put it to him that it was his intention to drive the jeep but he replied no, he did not intend to go any further that night and wouldn’t have moved the jeep.
Asked why he didn’t just get into the back of the jeep to go to sleep, he said there was “farming stuff” in the back and the front was more comfortable.
Judge Kilrane, having heard the evidence, said there were three elements to the crime of being drunk in charge, that being that the person was drunk, the person was in charge, and the person intended to drive.
He said the garda correctly formed his opinion and there was reasonably compelling evidence the defendant intended to drive as the engine was running, the lights were on, and he was near his home.
Judge Kilrane said there were two matters raised that were of assistance to the defendant.
He said that usually a driver with such a high concentration would literally “run out of road” and the car would stop and they would slump over the wheel. That, he said, was not the case here.
Secondly, he said that while Mr McKeon was very close to home, he made the conscious decision to turn right off the main road to the closed Mountain Tavern premises and drove in and turned to face outwards.
He said the only reason a person would do that was that they didn’t want to go home. He said Mr McKeon was near home but for some reason didn’t want to go home.
Judge Kilrane said he was prepared to accept the evidence there was a problem at home and he decided not to go home.
He questioned how long Mr McKeon was going to wait, was it until everyone at home had gone to bed or until he had sobered up sufficiently.
Judge Kilrane described the reading as “shocking” and said it was as a result of whiskey being consumed in Drumshanbo, or in the vehicle.
He said he wanted to think about the case and adjourned the matter to September 24 next.
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