Detective involved in collision 'had smell of drink on breath', court told

A top detective said “I'm f***ed, I'm f***ed” when an unmarked Garda car he was driving crashed on the M50 motorway after he had spent hours in a pub, a court has heard.

Detective involved in collision 'had smell of drink on breath', court told

A top detective said “I'm f***ed, I'm f***ed” when an unmarked Garda car he was driving crashed on the M50 motorway after he had spent hours in a pub, a court has heard.

Det Garda Kevin Keys, who is attached to Mountjoy station in Dublin, admits he lost control of the car which was involved in a collision on the evening February 6, 2010.

However, he has pleaded not guilty at Dublin District Court to dangerous driving and taking the unmarked Ford Mondeo without authorisation from his garda station.

Gareth Wooster told Judge Conal Gibbons that at about 7.50 pm he had been driving his Hyundai Sante Fe 4X4 along the motorway when to his left the maroon Ford Mondeo, which was driven by Det Gda Keys, approached junction 11. The Mondeo driver attempted to enter the exit which was cordoned off with traffic cones but then came back on to the M50.

“I saw the brake lights and the Mondeo wobbled from side to side and did a u-turn on the motorway,” Mr Wooster said.

He recalled “looking down the tyre of the Mondeo” and there was a collision between both vehicles. Mr Wooster also said the Mondeo had been driving significantly faster than his car.

He was hurt when the air-bags in his Sante Fe were activated but he managed to get out of his car which was written off.

Mr Wooster said Det Gda Keys was “slumped across the lap of a passenger and was conscious” but appeared “dazed like a rabbit in the headlights”.

Mr Wooster asked the two men in the Mondeo if they were okay but they did not acknowledge him. “It was like I did not exist, like I was not there,” he said.

Mr Wooster was taken to Tallaght hospital where he was breathalysed resulting in a zero reading. However, he noticed that neither men who had been in the Mondeo came into the hospital.

Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance crew member Anthony O'Connor said he brought Det Keys and Det Sgt Peter Woods to Tallaght Hospital.

There was a smell of alcohol from Det Keys' breath and it was obvious from his demeanour that he had drink taken, he said.

On arrival at Tallaght hospital both officers declined to be admitted for treatment and left.

Retired Garda Brian Ford told the court that he happened upon the accident. He gained partial entry to the back of the Mondeo and noticed a strong smell of alcohol particularly from the passenger. He said the driver, Det Keys, appeared to be in shock and was saying “I am fucked, I am fucked”.

He agreed with prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy that in his statement to the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) he said he got “a passing whiff” of alcohol from Det Keys as he was being put into an ambulance.

Witness Damien Meehan said he saw the unmarked Mondeo heading across the M50 “pointing towards the middle of the motorway” just prior to the collision. After the crash he thought that the driver was agitated.

The court had heard that earlier that day Det Keys had been rostered to work from 9am to 5pm but at about 2pm he went to a pub in Phibsborough where he met off-duty colleagues and watched an Ireland versus Italy rugby match on television.

Det Garda Michael Smith, who was off duty at the time, said there was a rounds system and Det Gda Keys was drinking lager and possibly had six pints. However, he agreed with defence solicitor Dara Robinson that it was possible Det Gda Keys had been drinking shandies, as well as water and cups of coffee. He was also aware that his colleague had a meal at the pub and that a drink had been accidentally spilled on him there.

Det Gda Keys left at about 7.30 along with Det Sergeant Peter Woods, the court heard.

The judge heard that detectives could only use vehicles for official garda business however Det Keys had not logged on to the car he had taken from Mountjoy station.

The defence also put it to Garda witnesses that on the date of the crash that Det Keys was delivering a witness order to a person in relation to a forthcoming murder trial.

However, his superior Det Sgt Robert O'Reilly was not aware that Det Keys was planning to do it on that date, the court heard

Det Sgt O'Reilly and Superintendent Sean Walsh both said that officers could not take a Garda car if they had drink taken.

Det Sgt O'Reilly also said he regarded Det Keys as a “top detective” in one of the busiest units in the country.

After the crash, Gda Sgt Pat Slattery and a GSOC investigator went to Det Keys' home after it was learned that he had not sought treatment in Tallaght hospital.

He said there was no answer when he first called there but later, at about 4 am, he and the GSOC officer spoke to him and saw that he was suffering from “pangs” of pain. However, too much time had elapsed to carry out a breathalyser test on him.

The case continues next week.

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