The accused, arrested during a co-ordinated early morning operation yesterday, were brought before Cork District Court where they faced a combination of dangerous driving and wilful obstruction charges relating to the incident on the N20 near Blarney on May 5 this year.
The incident was recorded on film by one of several dozen onlookers who were following the race in a convoy of cars and vans. The clip was subsequently posted on YouTube and has been viewed almost 350,000 times.
Sergeant Kenneth O’Sullivan, based at Blarney Garda Station, told Judge Leo Malone that he arrested Jimmy O’Brien, aged 28, with an address at 21 Innishannon Rd, Fairhill, Cork, yesterday morning and charged him with dangerous driving, contrary to section 53 of the Road Traffic Act, in relation to the sulky incident.
Sgt Pat Murphy, also based at Blarney Garda Station, said he arrested Patrick O’Brien, aged 25, of 1 Woodford, Rossa Ave, Cork, at 8.15am yesterday and took him to Gurranabraher Garda Station where he was charged with dangerous driving of a horse- drawn vehicle, contrary to section 53, and with wilful obstruction contrary to section 9 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act.
Sgt O’Sullivan said James Stokes, aged 18, was arrested at St Anthony’s Park halting site in Knocknaheeny, Cork, at 8.10am and was taken to Gurranabraher Garda Station where he was charged with five offences — two counts of dangerous driving, one count of wilful obstruction, one count of driving without a licence, and one of holding a mobile phone while driving.
Danny Stokes, aged 46, who was arrested at St Anthony’s Park halting site, was charged with two counts of dangerous driving and two of overtaking on the left-hand side.
Christopher Roche, aged 41, who was also arrested at St Anthony’s Park halting site, was charged with three counts of dangerous driving and two counts of wilful obstruction.
Gardaí said none of the men made any reply to the charges. Inspector Eileen Foster told Judge Malone that gardaí had no objection to the men being released on bail — with two conditions.
Judge Malone directed that each man sign on three times a week at Gurranabraher Garda Station and not engage in, or involve themselves with, sulky racing in a public place.
He released them all on their own bail bond of €200 to appear before Cork District Court again on Nov 27.
Solicitor Diarmuid Kelleher told the court that his client, Mr Roche, was unemployed, and free legal aid was granted.
Solicitor Donal Daly said the other four accused were unemployed and the judge asked for statements of means before granting free legal aid.