Anglo protester cleared after driving truck into Dail gates
This was about protest, not publicity, property developer says after verdict
Published 22/03/2011 | 08:17
A PROPERTY developer who drove a concrete mixer truck at the gates of Leinster House last September has been found not guilty of criminal damage or dangerous driving.
Joe McNamara (41) drove the truck at Leinster House in Dublin on the morning of September 29 last year. The terms 'Toxic Bank' and 'Anglo' were painted in red letters on the truck's sides.
Minor damage was caused to the gateway's paintwork, which cost ¿35 to fix.
Mr McNamara, of Dun na Carraige, Blackrock, Co Galway, owed Anglo Irish Bank ¿7.5m at the time. He was found not guilty at Dublin District Court yesterday. The property developer was not called to give evidence as the case was dismissed by the judge before his lawyers opened their defence.
Afterwards he said he was happy with the outcome. "This was not about publicity, it was to make a protest," he said.
He also said that while at the time he had owed ¿7.5m to Anglo Irish Bank, that "debt has reduced a hell of a lot since".
The court had heard he was exercising his rights to express opinions and he pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving, criminal damage to the gates of Leinster House, not having a certificate of road worthiness, and failing to produce a driving licence.
Gda Thomas O'Malley told Judge Ann Watkin that he had been stationed in a kiosk beside the gates of Leinster House when a cement mixer truck came onto Kildare Street from Molesworth Street.
Mr McNamara "collided with the gates of Leinster House" and then climbed through a sun roof on top of the truck.
When he was brought down he told the garda the brakes had been cut and it was not possible to move the truck. He also told gardai subsequently he had been protesting and did not intend to cause damage, adding, "I don't do violence."
A mechanic who towed the truck after the incident said its brake lines had been cut and the vehicle would not have been able to travel far as a result. The State argued that Mr McNamara had a case to answer on the criminal damage and dangerous driving because he had recklessly used a defective vehicle.
Dismissing the criminal damage and dangerous driving charges, Judge Watkin said that she had a doubt as to when the vehicle had been rendered defective.
She also found him not guilty of the remaining charges, saying gardai did not make notes that they cautioned Mr McNamara to produce his licence and certificate of road worthiness.