Court: Driver who failed to stop told to ‘cop himself on’

Buncrana courthouse.
Buncrana courthouse.

A Gleneely man who failed to stop for Gardai has been fined 300 euro and told to “cop himself on.”

Liam McCauley, Green Acres, contested the offence at Carndonagh District Court.

Garda Robin Hennigan told the court he was on duty on 2nd March 2015 at Carrowmore, Gleneely when he saw a silver Mercedes travelling “at speed” in the direction of Carndonagh.

The Garda decided to follow the car to stop it, catching up with McCauley as he approached Gleneely village on the main Moville road. He then activated his blue lights and the vehicle indicated to run left, proceeding to travel on the Moville road without reducing speed. Gda Hennigan said McCauley (50), then indicated as if to turn left at a crossroads but proceeded straight before later stopping in the driveway of a house. He approached McCauley and cautioned him, Gda Hennigan said that when he asked McCauley why he hadn’t stopped he replied he had drank “three or four pints.” The Gda told the court this wasn’t evident from McCauley’s manner of driving. A fixed penalty notice was later issued for failing to stop but was not paid.

Defence solicitor Ray Lannon argued that Gda Hennigan had given evidence McCauley had driven “at speed” but did not specify at which speed this was. He also referred to case law in relation to the stopping of McCauley by the Garda, stating no evidence of an offence had taken place and the Garda could therefore not invoke his power to stop McCauley. Garda Inspector Denis Joyce said Garda gave evidence McCauley’s vehicle was travelling “at speed,” adding that it was 2.30am in the morning. He said Gardai “stop cars early in the morning” to determine if they are doing anything “unusual.” Insp Joyce said that if McCauley “wasn’t travelling at speed then the Garda wouldn’t have stopped him.” Judge Paul Kelly said that in court, legal counsel regularly use the euphemism, ‘at speed’ which he takes to mean “fast.” He added that “in the normal use of English, if someone travels at speed it’s more likely 100kph than 5kph.” Judge Kelly noted that the Garda pursued McCauley and didn’t catch with him until close to a mile later. McCauley has previous convictions for no insurance, drink driving and dangerous driving. Judge Kelly said McCauley had a “bad record and needs to cop himself on.” He fined him 300 euro.