Councillor on drink-drive charge hid behind bush after fleeing, court told
Published 02/03/2013 | 05:00
A VETERAN Fine Gael councillor fled from a routine garda checkpoint before ditching his vehicle and running away from officers through a churchyard.
The revelation came as Cllr Michael Hegarty pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while under the influence last year.
Youghal District Court heard that gardai found the councillor, following a lengthy foot chase, behind a bush in a derelict site.
The 51-year-old, a former chairman of the Cork Joint Policing Committee, denies driving while over the alcohol limit at Ballymacoda, in east Cork, on August 21, 2012.
Mr Hegarty of Moanroe, Ladysbridge, Co Cork, had the case against him adjourned for a fortnight after his legal team challenged the validity of his detention by gardai.
Judge Terence Finn was told by Garda Cillian Barry that he was conducting a checkpoint at midnight outside Ballymacoda.
He spotted a car approaching the checkpoint, which after halting at a junction, turned to the left with its wheels spinning.
The officers pursued the vehicle which stopped in the car park of a church at Ballydaniel.
Gda Barry said the motorist jumped from the car and ran away. Judge Finn was told the officers repeatedly shouted at the man to stop and identified themselves as gardai.
Gda Barry said he spotted Mr Hegarty behind a bush.
After cautioning the father of four, Gda Barry said he was told: "I just panicked – I had a few drinks."
An intoxilyzer test later delivered a result of 61 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath – almost twice the permitted alcohol driving limit.
Following legal submissions, Inspector Eoin Healy asked for an adjournment so he could take advice on a case law cited.
Judge Finn adjourned the matter to the March 15 sitting of Youghal District Court.