Judge saw wheelchair user out walking

A man facing jail for a string of road traffic offences offered his status as a wheelchair-user as mitigation — only for the judge to claim he had seen the same man walking towards him just a few months previously.

David Moat, of Cousane, Dunmanway, Co Cork, was found guilty of four separate charges, including driving a vehicle with no tax, while uninsured and while disqualified, near his home on July 14 last year.

He appeared before Bandon District Court yesterday for sentencing, the case having been heard before Clonakilty District Court on June 21, when he was also convicted of threatening and insulting two of his neighbours, also on July 14 last year.

Convicting Moat, aged 67, in Clonakilty on June 21 Judge James McNulty noted that it was claimed that Moat used a wheelchair “at all times”.

“I have to tell you I have encountered this man in the square in Bantry, walking, in the last three months,” Judge McNulty said on June 21.

“I encountered Mr Moat walking towards me on the pavement,” he said, adding that the defendant had seemed to be “agile and nimble”.

Moat countered by claiming: “You could have mistaken that for my brother.”

Yesterday, Moat’s solicitor, Plunkett Taaffe, also explained the sighting, saying: “It is a brother of his who has been in the vicinity.”

The court heard that members of Moat’s family would have produced a photograph of Mr Moat’s brother, but they had attended the wrong courthouse.

Judge McNulty said that he had a “good recollection of that chance encounter” in Bantry.

He added that even if he was to accept that it was Mr Moat’s brother that he saw “who turned on his heels when he saw me and crossed the street to avoid me,” no evidence of mobility issues had been heard in court on June 21 about the events of last July 14.

Moat’s neighbours, Sally Back and her partner, Michael Ball, had both given evidence that on July 14 last year Ms Back had been leaving her home to go to work at around 7.40am when she found a 4x4 vehicle blocking the road.

She claimed that Moat, who is originally from England, was in the car and that he said he had just driven it from a dealer’s, that the vehicle had broken down, and that because it was newly purchased, he did not need tax or insurance for it.

The court had heard that the exchange between Moat and Ms Back became heated and abusive.

Mr Ball claimed Moat said: “You are going to fucking get it, you won’t know when but it’s coming.”

Garda Liam Galvin had given evidence that the vehicle in question had been registered to a man in Co Offaly and that when the garda had visited Moat’s home last December seeking a statement, the defendant was “highly abusive”, saying: “Fuck off, it’s not my car. I can’t drive a car because I can’t fucking walk.”

The garda said Moat claimed that his neighbours “are trying to stitch me up again” and told the garda to “fuck off out of my house”.

Moat had denied that the 4x4 was his.

He said he had not driven it and when he came across it that morning he believed it may have been bought by his housemate “as a non-runner”.

He said he had only sat in the passenger seat while his wife got his son so as to move it.

He told the court on June 21 that he was “fed up with you lot”, referring to the gardaí.

Moat had 59 previous convictions, including seven for uninsured driving, and he has also been the subject of a number of driving disqualifications.

Yesterday, Judge McNulty reactivated a five-month jail term for assault which had been handed to Moat last year, but which had been suspended.

He also gave him three six-month sentences, two of which are to be served together.

The judge also suspended a three-month jail term, for his conviction of being abusive to his neighbours, on condition that he keep the peace regarding Ms Back and Mr Ball.


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