A DETECTIVE Garda has been cleared on appeal of a dangerous driving conviction in connection with a collision on the M50 in Dublin which occurred after he spent hours in a pub.
Det-Gda Kevin Keys, who is attached to Mountjoy station in Dublin, lost control of an unmarked Ford Mondeo which collided with a Hyundai Sante Fe 4X4 driven by Gareth Wooster, who did not sustain serious injuries, on February 6, 2010.
Last year at Dublin District Court, he had been found guilty of dangerous driving, was fined €500 and given a two-year road ban. However he brought an appeal to the Circuit Court and today Judge Terence O'Sullivan set aside the conviction.
The ruling, he explained, was technical, and based on issues raised by defence solicitor Dara Robinson relating to a directive approved by former Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy. This directive delegated authority to officers of the rank of superintendent to refer matters to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) for investigation.
Former Commissioner Fachtna Murphy told the appeal court that on January 18, 2010, he had approved the directive.
Judge O'Sullivan said today that the wording of the directive approved by the former Garda Commissioner used the past tense and did not suggest that it was being continued.
He held that as a result, a superintendent who had referred Det-Gda Keys case to GSOC, was not fully compliant with the Garda Siochana Act 2005.
He said that GSOC were not to be criticised and the agency had followed procedures they believed entitled them to conduct the investigation.
Judge O'Sullivan allowed the appeal and set aside the district court's conviction of Det-Gda Keys.
In March last year at Dublin District Court, Det Keys had originally been found guilty of the charge of dangerous driving which he had contested.
That court had found that Det Keys did not have to ask for permission to use the unmarked Ford Mondeo and there was no evidence to contradict his claim that he was serving a witness summons at the time. District Court Judge Conal Gibbons, who had originally convicted Det-Gda Key, had said it was clear the officer had drink taken but there was conflicting evidence as to the amount he had consumed.
Det-Gda Keys, who works in one of Ireland's busiest detective units, had no prior criminal convictions and an “unblemished record”, the district court had been told.
The detective had told investigators from GSOC that he was delivering a witness summons; he had drank four or five lager shandies in a pub earlier that day but was fit to drive.
Det Keys had been rostered to work that day from 9 am to 5 pm, but at about 2 pm, he went to a pub in Phibsborough, in Dublin, and stayed there with colleagues until 7.30 pm.
At about 7.50 pm, while driving the Mondeo on the M50, he attempted to take the exit for junction 11, but it was cordoned off with traffic cones and he then came back on to the motorway.
The Mondeo crossed three lanes until it collided with Mr Wooster's Sante Fe which was written off.
Tests revealed that the unmarked garda car's anti-lock braking system was defective, and there was conflicting information on road signs leading to the point where he crashed, the district court trial had heard.
Det Keys, who broke six ribs and suffered a punctured lung in the crash, was brought to Tallaght hospital but did not go in for treatment.
When questioned by GSOC, he claimed he thought the waiting list would be too long and he had denied that he had not gone in for treatment so he could avoid being tested for drink-driving.