Judge ‘sick’ at ‘rotten’ penalty points

A judge has said he has felt “mentally sick” over the “rotten” fixed charge penalty point system gardaí have in place to prosecute speeding motorists.

Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment at Ennis District Court after ordering that the top garda overseeing the force’s contentious fixed charge penalty system (FCPN) for motoring offences come before him to answer why the system is “rotten”.

“Four months ago, after a court here where there was a number of these cases, I was barely able to drive home, I was so mentally sick at the way the whole thing isn’t working,” the judge said. “There is something rotten in the whole system.”

The judge has been a vociferous critic of the system in response to motorists telling him they haven’t received the fixed charge penalties from the Garda unit based in Thurles which issues the notices nationally. As a result cases have been struck out.

Judge Durcan said if the fixed charge unit sent out the notices by registered post, it would resolve the difficulty.

Yesterday, a female motorist told the judge she didn’t receive the fixed charge penalty notice that would have given her time to pay fines for two speeding offences.

As she didn’t receive the FCPNs, she received two court summons and is now liable to higher penalty points on conviction.

Judge Durcan said that the case should be adjourned to allow Supt (James) Keane come to court to answer questions on the FCPN system.

He told a garda present that he wanted him to find out when the superintendent could come before him.

After hearing details of a separate case where a motorist didn’t receive the FCPN, he said: “The sooner Supt Keane in Thurles wakes up the better and so that everything can be served by registered post and put the cost on the punter.“

Twenty minutes later, the garda returned to court to say Supt Keane is no longer overseeing the fixed charge system.

He said that Supt Keane’s successor will come to court on October 6 to speak to Judge Durcan on the issue.


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