A man with an “unhealthy fascination” with police equipment was caught speeding an imitation garda car around the city centre while drunk, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
Ciaran Farrelly of Maplewood Drive, Tallaght, was rejected when he tried to join the gardaí at 19 and developed an interest in garda equipment, buying several patrol cars at police auctions over the years. He has four previous convictions including one for possession of nearly 400 ecstasy tablets.
He was arrested by gardaí last year in a car which had been fitted with a siren and flashing lights as well as antennas similar to those seen on unmarked garda cars.
Farrelly (aged 34) was banned from driving for two years and fined €2,000. Judge Katherine Delahunt also ordered a report to assess if he is suitable for community service.
He pleaded guilty to impersonating a garda, dangerous driving and drunk driving in Dublin city centre on June 6, 2009.
Sergeant Paul Talon told Ms Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that he was in an unmarked patrol vehicle on Lower Mount Street when he saw a navy estate car travelling at high speed towards him with sirens coming from it. He was unsure if it was an official garda car and turned around to follow it as it passed him.
He saw the car break a red light and drive on the wrong side of the road, causing people to jump out of the way. The car eventually stopped on Baggot Street and Sgt Talon found Farrelly in the drivers seat with another man in the passenger seat.
The men had a “five cell mag light”, a flashlight similar to those issued to gardaí, and there was a strong smell of alcohol in the car. Sgt Talon said a police siren and flashing lights had been fitted to the car but the lights were not functional.
Farrelly was arrested and interviewed. He said he had bought the car in England and that he had purchased several ex-police cars over the years in the UK and Ireland. However the car he was driving on the night had never been a police vehicle.
He said he had put on the siren because he was “hammered drunk” and was showing off to his friends. He said he was very sorry and had no sinister purpose in having the equipment.
Defence counsel, Mr Colm O’Briain BL, said Farrelly admitted he had a childish and unhealthy interest in police items but has since abandoned this. He said that his client has a long work history and is involved in the upbringing of his 13-year-old daughter who lives in Northern Ireland with her mother.
Judge Delahunt old Farrelly he was “very lucky” the gardaí did not believe he had the equipment for some other purpose. She put the matter back until February to see if he is deemed suitable for community service.