Tuesday 27 September 2016

Man previously convicted of damaging €10m Monet painting 'deliberately set trap to cause a traffic collision'

Ray Managh

Published 08/03/2016 | 13:49

Andrew Shannon
Andrew Shannon

A 51-year-old French polisher, currently appealing conviction and imprisonment for damaging a €10 million Monet painting, was said by a judge today to have deliberately set a trap to cause a traffic collision.

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Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, said Andrew Shannon had by the manner in which he had driven his car “purposely and with intention set a trap” for a lorry driver behind him.

In what had earlier been described by barrister Frank Beatty as a road rage incident, Judge Groarke said Shannon’s actions were utterly irrational.

Shannon, who told the Circuit Civil Court he had 47 previous criminal convictions, sued an international haulage company and its driver, Ross Buckley, for €38,000 damages for whiplash injuries and more than €3,000 repairs to his car.

Mr Beatty, who appeared with Francis Gaughan of BLM Solicitors for Noel Malone International Haulage Ltd, said Mr Buckley would tell the court that Shannon’s evidence was entirely misleading.

“He will say you were driving erratically and engaged in a road rage incident immediately prior to the inevitable collision,” Mr Beatty said.

“He will say you were gesticulating and screaming and shouting at him and deliberately jammed on your brakes just ahead of him.”

Mr Shannon, of Williams Way, Ongar, Clonee, Dublin 15, said such suggestions were just not true and did not happen.

Shannon said he had passed Buckley’s articulated truck on its left hand side and moved in front of it from a bus lane on the Navan Road.  A car in front of him had suddenly stopped and he had to carry out an emergency stop.  The lorry had run into the back of him. He denied having driven “like a madman” along the bus lane.

He told Mr Beatty he was not currently in prison as his conviction for criminally damaging a Monet painting was under appeal.

Buckley, who said he had one million miles of accident-free driving across Canada and all of Europe, said he saw Shannon gesticulating at him and shouting and screaming.  He allowed him to enter in front of him from the bus lane and “for no reason whatsoever” Shannon had jammed on his brakes.  He was unable to avoid an impact.

Dublin Bus driver Petru Apopei said Shannon had “suddenly hit the brakes in front of the artic.”  He thought it was an intentional act.

Judge Groarke, dismissing Shannon’s claim, said that for all intent and purposes Shannon was inviting a collision to occur.

“Whether the intention was to set up a claim is neither here nor there.  Did the plaintive drive in such a grossly reckless fashion as to set a trap for the defendant?” he asked.

“Should that be so and the defendant driver was remiss in not being able to stop as he might have done, is the plaintiff entitled to recover damages?  I say no,” Judge Groarke said.

“If the driving of the vehicle is being done to set up or invite an impact or seeking to test the driving ability of a vehicle behind, then a trap is set and the stopped vehicle is not now a motor vehicle but is being used as a sort of weapon,” the judge said.  

“I find in the circumstances it would be irrational if I was to make a finding of negligence against the defendants and I therefore dismiss the claim with costs,” Judge Groarke said.

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