The Angelus bell was not enough to save a Mass-going Catholic woman from serious punishment yesterday.
Teresa Canning, aged 48,of Effin, Co Limerick, was banned from driving for three years at Limerick District Court last May, as a result of a minor accident while driving home from the wake of an elderly neighbour where she had taken drink.
A blood sample showed she was more than three times above the legal limit.
Appealing the conviction at Limerick Circuit Court, Ms Canning claimed a blood sample she gave at Bruff station was not taken within three hours of driving. She based her claim on the 6pm Angelus on RTÉ Radio.
Defence counsel, Emmett O’Brien, said: “This is a case of for whom the bell tolls.”
Fergus O’Callaghan said he was driving home when a car driven by Ms Canning knocked a wing mirror from his car. He followed Ms Canning’s car and when she would not accept blame, he phoned gardaí, having got a strong smell of alcohol from her. He said the accident happened at 6.25pm and he phoned gardaí at 6.30pm. He noted the time in a diary for insurance purposes.
Garda Marguerite Wright said she was radioed to go to the scene of an accident. She arrived at 7.14pm and formed the opinion Ms Canning had alcohol taken. She arrested her and brought her to Bruff station. Ms Canning denied having taken drink at this point. A doctor took a blood sample at 9.10pm and this showed an alcohol level of 185 — the legal limit is 50.
Ms Canning said the Angelus was ringing on her car radio when Mr O’Callaghan approached her. She said she panicked when denying she had taken drink .
Mr O’Brien said the Angelus proved Ms Canning’s claim regarding the time of the accident and put the 9.10pm time of taking a blood sample out of the three-hour permitted time. However the district court’s three-year driving ban was upheld.
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