Senior garda cleared of trying to frustrate drink-drive prosecution

Detective Inspector Paul O'Brien arrives at Dublin District Court yesterday. Pic: Courtpix

A senior garda who drank whiskey to calm his nerves after accidentally reversing his car over a 4-year-old girl has been cleared of attempting to frustrate a drink-drive prosecution.

Detective Inspector Paul O’Brien, from Moyville, Rathfarnham, Dublin, hit the girl, who did not suffer any permanent injuries, while reversing out of his driveway at about 10.30am on May 6 last year.

He pleaded not guilty at Dublin District Court to consuming alcohol with intention of frustrating a prosecution under section 4 of the Road Traffic Act.

Martin Dully, defending, yesterday argued that Mr O’Brien had not been under suspicion of drink-driving when, following the incident, he drank a measure-and-a-half of whiskey, and it was impossible that this was an attempt to frustrate a drink-drive prosecution being brought against him. After hearing evidence from six witnesses and the defence submissions, Judge Bryan Smyth dismissed the case.

The court heard that the girl went out to use her scooter with her parents on the same footpath watching her.

The mother, Tracy Kirwan, told Judge Smyth she heard a bang and saw that her daughter had been “trapped underneath the back-left reverse wheel”.

She said Mr O’Brien got out and was unaware the girl was under his car. Her husband David lifted the rear of the car as Mr O’Brien moved it forward and the girl was taken out “screaming and crying”.

The parents brought the girl to hospital to get her checked out; she suffered bruising and did not have any broken bones.

About 20 minutes after the incident, Garda Donal Ashe spoke with Det Insp O’Brien in his house.

Garda Ashe agreed that it did not appear as if the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. The incident was being treated as an accident and he went outside to wait for a breathalyser to be dropped around to him.

A short while later, he cautioned Mr O’Brien that he was going to breathalyse him and was told by him that he had “just taken a drink to calm his nerves because he was shook up by the incident”.

Garda Ashe agreed with Mr Dully that the accident, in the context of Det Insp O’Brien having been driving an official Garda car, “was a pretty stressful situation”.


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