Four gardaí needed to put ‘arrogant’ cyclist in cell, court told

A circuit court judge said yesterday he had never come across a more arrogant witness than the 33-year-old cyclist appealing a case where gardaí had to handcuff him when a row about his cycling escalated so badly.

Previous environment minister, Leo Varadkar, was repeatedly referenced by the accused cyclist, Justin Shorten, of Salem, Blackrock Rd, Ballintemple, Cork, during the incident as he insisted on his right to cycle in the manner in which he insisted he had cycled.

The appellant’s cycling came to the attention of gardaí when he cycled on the main traffic lane on Anglesea Street through a red light on the traffic lane when there was a green light on the cycle lane. The cyclist was not in the cycle lane.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he took it from the evidence of Garda Mark O’Connor that his position was that, “the cyclists’ green light only applies to the cycle lane and any cyclist using the road has to obey the rules of the road, Leo or not.”

Garda O’Connor said the cyclist was swerving around the road before they passed him and signalled for him to stop outside the South Infirmary, and that he made comments about his rights as a cyclist and communications he had made with Leo Varadkar when he was environment minister.

He obstructed Garda O’Connor who attempted to handcuff him at the side of the road. Gardaí were unable to put him into a patrol car and had to get a Garda wagon. It later took four gardaí to put him into a cell at the Bridewell.

Shorten told his barrister, Donnacha Kiely, he did not cycle on the cycle lane because lighting was poor on it and pedestrians often walked on it. He denied being drunk at the time, denied swerving and was so worried about the way the gardaí were arresting him that he phoned 999 to report the gardaí to the gardaí.

He blamed gardaí for the way in which the situation escalated.

He accepted under cross-examination by state solicitor, Frank Nyhan, that it took four gardaí to put him in a cell because of his “peaceful resistance”.

The judge said his attitude was that, “He was on his bike and he could do what he liked — how dare the guards question him. I do not think I have ever come across a more arrogant witness.”

Convictions and fines totalling €700 were affirmed for being drunk and a danger, threatening, obstructing Garda O’Connor and cycling past a red light. The judge allowed the appeal against a €200 fine for cycling under the influence.


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