State has difficulty with case, says judge

The judge hearing the trial of a father accused of endangering his baby son by driving him unrestrained from Kilkenny to Cork said yesterday that the prosecution had a difficulty.

The 22-year-old father, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is charged with endangerment of the child. The disputed incident happened between 9pm and 11pm on July 22, 2013.

Defence solicitor Eddie Burke said the nine-month-old boy’s mother had chosen not to give evidence so this left a case where there was no evidence of endangerment against the accused.

Citing the Supreme Court judgment in Cagney v McGrath, Mr Burke argued the case against his client in relation to the baby was a general one alleging endangerment, where the evidence might only have supported a more specific charge of failing to restrain the child using car seat and seat belt.

Judge Leo Malone said: “The only evidence is that the child arrived in Cork without being properly secured. There is no charge of careless or dangerous driving which causes something of a difficulty for the State.

“The circumstances are unusual. He [the defendant] arrives at the house on the outskirts of Cork with the RSU [the armed Regional Support Unit] waiting for him. Clearly. the guards took a very serious view.”

The judge put his decision back until May 20 so to consider the defence submission but added: “I think the State is in difficulty.”

Mr Burke said yesterday the child’s mother had not given evidence against her husband, the manager of a fast-food outlet in Dungarvan where the man got food had not been called to testify, and there was no evidence of dangerous driving, or even of the child being in a distressed condition in Cork, other than evidence that he was thirsty.

The man was remanded on bail until May 20.

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