Footballer avoids conviction for urine sample refusal

A former Tyrone footballer has avoided conviction for refusing to give a blood or urine sample because gardaí failed to inform him of his obligations, a court has ruled.

Judge James O’Connor dismissed the charge against three times All-Ireland winner and BBC GAA pundit Owen Mulligan because he said gardaí had failed to warn him of his obligation to provide a blood or urine sample when he could not give a sample of his breath.

Judge O’Connor accepted that Mr Mulligan had suffered broken ribs resulting from a football match in Tyrone five days before his arrest, and this constituted a “special” or “substantial” reason as to why the defendant was not able to give a breath sample.

Supt Dan Keane told Listowel District Court yesterday, that the first gardaí had heard about Mr Mulligan’s claim to have suffered the injury was when evidence was heard in the case at a sitting of the court in September.

Judge O’Connor said: “He [Mulligan] was obstreperous, awful, aggressive, and difficult to handle both inside and outside the Garda station towards everybody and there is no doubt about that but the decision is to dismiss.”

Mr Mulligan, 34, of 83 Church Street, Crookstown, Co Tyrone was arrested at William Street, Listowel, on August 29, 2014, on suspicion of being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

He had attended the wedding of his former teammate Michael Coleman at a local hotel the previous day.

His solicitor John O’Dwyer, son of legendary GAA manager Mick O’Dwyer, claimed proper procedure hadn’t been followed and gardaí failed to inform Mr Mulligan of his obligation to provide a blood or urine sample when he was unable to provide a breath sample.

Previously, Garda Pierce Ferriter told the court he had arrested Mr Mulligan, following a call received by a member of the public at 1.45am that a man had left the Listowel Arms with a woman and got into a black BMW X6 driving in the direction of William Street.

He said when he approached the car, Mr Mulligan was sitting behind the wheel and the keys were in the ignition with the engine running.

He said there was a strong smell of intoxicating liquor from his breath and his speech was slurred.

Gda Ferriter added: “On the night in question he was very abusive and aggressive towards the doctor and said there was no way he’d let him near him. He said he didn’t believe this man was a doctor and was rude and aggressive towards him.”

In his evidence to the court in September, Dr John Halkett said Mr Mulligan appeared “very inebriated” and “didn’t fancy” giving either a blood sample or providing a urine sample when asked to do so.

In his evidence to the court on that day, Mr Mulligan said he had been attending a wedding in Listowel and had had one glass of wine with dinner.

He said of Dr Halkett: “No disrespect to the man but he didn’t look like a doctor and was unsteady on his feet.”

Mr Mulligan said he could distinctly remember putting his hands on his ribs to indicate why he was unable to provide a breath sample.

His solicitor, Mr O’Dwyer, produced a medical statement from Dr Paul J Flanagan confirming he had been suffering from fractured ribs.


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