Cork councillor found not guilty of intending to drive car when he had excess alcohol

Fianna Fáil councillor Fergal Dennehy has been found not guilty of intending to drive a car in the early hours at a time when he had excess alcohol.

Cork councillor found not guilty of intending to drive car when he had excess alcohol

Fianna Fáil councillor Fergal Dennehy has been found not guilty of intending to drive a car in the early hours at a time when he had excess alcohol.

The councillor said that having a glass of wine thrown over him that night could have explained the smell of drink.

He also testified that he was working late on his computer and made himself an Irish coffee and only returned to the car to retrieve his phone charger and razor. He was not intending to drive anywhere, he said.

It was accepted that after a failed breath test, the garda station intoxilyzer gave a reading of 59 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of breath which would exceed the limit if a motorist was found to be intending to drive.

Inspector Noel Madden cross-examined him and asked why - on Garda Michael Harney’s evidence – Cllr. Dennehy was sitting in the driver’s seat with the door closed and the ignition key turned once.

He replied that he closed the door behind him out of habit when he was retrieving the items before returning to the house.

He said that when he saw gardaí approaching he turned the key once so that he could roll down the window to talk to them.

Frank Buttimer, solicitor, said the issue was that the defendant was charged with being in charge of the car with the intention of driving while he had excess alcohol, and he submitted that the defence case was that he had no intention of going anywhere, he had nowhere to go and was going to walk back into the house at Deanwood Avenue, Togher, Cork.

His wife, from whom he is separated but on amicable terms, lives there with their family and he stays there occasionally.

Cllr. Dennehy, 49, said he had left his apartment at Sarsfield Road earlier as a result of a domestic incident with another person, in the course of which he had a glass of wine thrown over him.

He testified that he had spent some time with his wife and family over Christmas and had returned there again early that morning – at around 1.30am - because of the incident at his apartment.

He was going to sleep on the couch. He said he took out his laptop and worked and made himself an Irish coffee, and about an hour later went to get the charger and razor from the car. He said the guards arrived and approached him.

He believed that there had been “a malicious call” about him to the guards arising out of the domestic incident at his apartment.

Michelle Dennehy said she was separated from her husband for two and a half years but he was always welcome to stay at the family home.

When she saw the garda car outside her home after 2.30am on December 27, 2018 she said: “I thought it was an accident. Thank God it wasn’t.”

Judge Con O’Leary said at the end of the case: “It was not his intention go anywhere. He intended to stay in the house. He went out to the car for a couple of things. What he says makes sense. I have to dismiss.”

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