Gardai helped driver out of ditch before realising he was drunk

February 27, 2021

Two Gardai sat on top of the boot of a car in order to help a driver get it out of a ditch, not knowing the man behind the wheel was actually drunk.

The bizarre evidence was given at Carndonagh District Court where Francis Kavanagh (44) of Ballymacarthur, Greencastle, was charged with being drunk while in charge of a motor propelled vehicle at the same address on May 11, 2017.

Garda Ian Oates told Judge Paul Kelly he was on duty at Ballymacarthur on the afternoon in question when he noticed a red BMW stuck in a ditch.

The car was at a 45 degree angle, with two side wheels in the soft verge and the other two wheels on the road.

“I thought the person inside was in distress and I went to his assistance,” Gda Oates told the court.

“The driver was still inside and the engine was running, he told me he met a lorry coming in the opposite direction, pulled in too far and ended up stuck in the ditch. My colleague and myself sat on top of the boot in order to give the back wheels traction.”

They also tried giving the car a push, however, without success. It was only when Gda Oates was chatting to Mr Kavanagh, while they waited on a local farmer to pull him out with his tractor, that he sensed a smell of alcohol from his breath.

He said his speech was also slurred, so Kavanagh was arrested and brought to Buncrana Garda Station where he subsequently gave a reading of 94 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

Defending solicitor, Mr Ciaran MacLochlainn, argued that, technically, his client’s BMW was not an MPV as it could not be driven.

“The car was incapable of being driven due to the precarious position it was in,” he told the court.

He added that the gardaí were forced to sit on the back of the car as it was ‘like a seesaw.’

Garda Inspector Shaun Grant, however, claimed that, as the engine was running, Mr Kavanagh was in full control of it.

Judge Kelly replied that the car may have been functioning, but it could not move: “even with two guards sitting on the boot.”

After some legal toing and froing between Insp Grant and Mr Mac Lochlainn, Judge Kelly said he would give Kavanagh the ‘benefit of doubt’ and proceeded to dismiss the charge against him.

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