Speeding charge against rugby star dismissed

Gordon D'Arcy leaving Tullamore District Court, where he had a speeding summons struck out. Pic: James Flynn

Irish rugby star Gordon D’Arcy has had a speeding summons dismissed after a judge said she couldn’t be satisfied he actually received the fine.

Tullamore District Court heard the fine was first sent to Honda, who sponsored the car Mr D’Arcy was driving when a speed van clocked him travelling at 106km/h in an 80km/h zone at Shanderry, Portarlington, Co Laois, on Apr 27 this year.

Mr D’Arcy, aged 33, admitted that he was the nominated driver at the time but said the fine hadn’t been sent on to him.

Judge Catherine Staines said the only way the court can be satisfied that drivers do get fines is if they are sent by registered post.

She also said the address on the nomination form Honda sent back to the fines office in Thurles was unclear, and could have been read as 9 instead of 29, South Hill, Dartry.

Inspector Kieran Keyes said he would rely on a provision in the Road Traffic Act which allows prosecutors to presume that drivers receive speeding fines.

But Judge Staines said there are huge problems with the fixed charged penalty system and it leaves the court in a dilemma. If someone doesn’t pay the fine and is summonsed to court and convicted for the offence, they get mandatory double penalty points, even if they genuinely didn’t get the fine in the first place.

She said people would prefer to get the fine and pay it rather than get double points.

The only way the court can deal fairly with both sides is if fines are sent by registered post, she said, adding that she believed Mr D’Arcy’s evidence that he gets all his other post at the home he shares with his wife.

She said Mr D’Arcy, who has no previous convictions, wouldn’t miss a day’s training to come to court to answer the summons if he had an option. She believed he would have paid the fine if he’d received it.

Mr D’Arcy was in training with the Ireland squad last week when his solicitor Donal Farrelly offered a charitable donation to the court for the speeding offence.

However, Judge Denis McLoughlin wouldn’t deal with the case in Mr D’Arcy’s absence and adjourned the case.

Mr Farrelly said Mr D’Arcy, who earned his 75th cap against the All Blacks this week, wanted to be in court even though he had a letter from Leinster rugby saying he couldn’t be present.


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