May 16, 2016
Judge Kelly rejected Mr Doherty's claims that he was forced to speed to protect his young passengers.

Judge Kelly rejected Mr Doherty’s claims that he was forced to speed to protect his young passengers.

A Donegal bus driver, who claimed his speeding actions saved the lives of children, was fined €100 after he was found guilty.

Denis Doherty, from 8 Gaddyduff, Clonmany, was charged with speeding at Tullyarvan, Buncrana on March 27, last year, when he appeared before Buncrana District Court in April.

The Court heard that Garda Colm Mooney was operating a speed checkpoint that morning when he detected a bus, with 46 school children on board, travelling at 69kph in the 50km zone at 9.05am.

59-year-old Mr. Doherty denied the offence saying he forced into breaking the speed limit to ensure that children, either in his bus or in the cars behind him were not injured.

He told the court last month that he overtook a slow moving tractor that morning but when he did a number of other cars behind him followed suit. He said had he not sped up there would not have been enough space for the rest of the cars to get in behind him.

The experienced Clonmany bus driver claimed there ‘could have been a pile up’ if hadn’t taken the action he did.

Defence solicitor Ray Lannon said his client took ‘fair, reasonable and necessary action’ to prevent a ‘clear threat of tragedy’.

However after taking time to review the case and study case law which was handed in by Mr. Lannon, Judge Paul Kelly found that Mr. Doherty ‘had a case to meet’.

Speaking in Buncrana Court, Judge Kelly he could not conceed that Mr. Dohery had no other choice but to break the speed limit on the day.

He said, as Inspector Michael Harrison pointed on in court last month, there were several actions Mr. Doherty could have take to avoid an accident that didn’t involve breaking the speed limit.

“For this defence to success there much be nothing else that could have been done to avoid a accident but increase your speed, but as Insp. Harrison pointed out on the last occasion Mr. Doherty could have maintained his 50km per hour speed and let the cars behind deal with their own situation.

“Or he could have pulled into the Side to let them pass or the van coming in the opposite direction could have taken evasive action… Therefore I am not convinced that Mr. Doherty had no other choice on the day,” added Judge Kelly.

He praised Mr. Lannon for his ‘eloquent and strenuous’ defence of the case, but he said he was rejecting the defence application.

“There was a number of things that could have happened that day and I believe Mr. Doherty misjudged his actions.”

Judge Kelly fined the Clonmany man €100 for speeding.