A Kerry farmer found wavering across white lines near Sneem on his poorly- equipped 1974 tractor — described in court as "a machine" — has had a charge of intoxication while driving dismissed.
A charge of driving without due care and attention was also struck out. However, several charges to do with the state of the 40-year-old tractor will only be leniently dealt with if the farmer, a 56-year-old bachelor with six cows on 25 acres of poor land, comes up with €1,000 for charity, Kenmare District Court heard.
At last month’s court in Kenmare, Judge James O’Connor was handed complicated case law on whether gardaí were entitled to pursue the allegedly intoxicated Gerry O’Shea, of Ankail, Tahilla, Sneem, into the driveway of another person’s home in the early hours of November 26, 2012.
Gardaí on patrol became suspicious after observing what they came to realise was a tractor, in the middle of the road with its rear lights broken. It crossed the white line twice.
Gardaí put on flashing lights and, pursued by the patrol car, Mr O’Shea drove the tractor into what was probably the first driveway he came across, the court was told. He fell out of the cab of the tractor onto the driveway, and there was a strong smell of alcohol, gardaí claimed. They were trying to ascertain his fitness to drive, the court heard.
However, Padraig O’Connell, solicitor for Mr O’Shea, maintained that, on foot of a Supreme Court ruling in 2004, “gardaí cannot enter a third-party property for purposes of investigation — only for arrest”.
Yesterday, Judge O’Connor said there was a gap in the State’s evidence and Mr O’Shea had to be given the benefit of the doubt “this time”. The judge said “the machine” was in the middle of the road, with no lamps, lights, or number plates.
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