At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan said trainee accountant, Joe Sutton, aged 23, of Gurrane, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, came into court and told “a pack of lies and perjured himself” when giving sworn evidence that he did not receive a Garda fixed charge penalty notice for speeding in the post.
Mr Sutton was detected speeding at 133km/h in a 120km/h zone on a Crusheen motorway on April 22 last.
After Judge Durcan refused to accept Mr Sutton’s claim that he never received the fixed charge notice, he convicted him, fining him €750 and banning him from driving for one year by way of ancillary order.
Mr Sutton will also be hit with five penalty points on his licence as a result of the conviction.
Judge Durcan also requested that Insp Tom Kennedy refer Mr Sutton’s evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) “because it is very obvious to me that a further offence has been committed in this court today”.
He said: “The sooner the State takes on board people coming into this court suited and booted and looking the part and yet like a nut, they are split and cracked wide open when pressure is applied. I am appalled that someone who is an educated person, who has every opportunity in life and is on the road to becoming an accountant came in here and told a pack of lies and perjured himself. There is nothing as appalling as a liar — somebody who comes in here and perjures himself and tries to get out of an offence of this nature.”
Judge Durcan said that in evidence, Mr Sutton “persisted in the lies when cross-examined by Sgt Molloy”.
Mr Sutton was one of two motorists Judge Durcan banned from driving for one year after not accepting evidence that they didn’t receive the fixed charge penalty notice in the post.
Judge Durcan also banned mechanical engineer, David Hehir of Cloonahaha of Gort, Co Galway, for a year and fined him €750 after not accepting evidence that he did not receive the fixed charge penalty notice in the post. Judge Durcan’s new “get tough” stance when not accepting evidence that motorists did not receive their notice in the post follows the judge last month in court stating that his courtroom was “stinking of perjury”.
In evidence yesterday, Mr Sutton said that he didn’t receive the speeding notice in the post.
However, Sgt Molloy put it to Mr Sutton that he was sent a separate Garda notice in relation to having no tax on the same date and that was paid by Mr Sutton. Mr Sutton said he didn’t receive a notice for tax either.
Sgt Molloy said: “I issued two tickets — one for speeding and one for tax. The tax incurs no penalty points, the speeding does. The tax was paid, the speeding wasn’t.”
Judge Durcan then intervened to remind Mr Sutton that he was under oath and not telling the truth he would be committing perjury. He said: “Do you want to reconsider the replies you have already given?”
In reply, Mr Sutton said: “I was mistaken about the tax. I remember paying the tax.”
Solicitor for Mr Sutton, Tara Godfrey said that her client “is very young”.
She said: “I am sure what happened here today is something that he will never forget. It is something that will help him in his life, I hope that he will learn from it. He has no experience of being inside a court before.”