A MOTHER of four has been convicted of driving without due consideration after she was caught on the road with her husband in the car-boot, leading a horse.
Heather Josiah (29), of Ardrew Court, Athy, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty to the offence before Judge Desmond Zaidan, who was so astounded by the evidence, he asked Inspector Jim Doyle to repeat it.
At Athy District Court, the judge asked: "Is that for real?".
And he said the evidence sounded like a case from 1890 rather than 2012.
Gardai found Ms Josiah at the head of a long stream of slow-moving traffic on Farrington Road, Athy, at 4.30pm on March 20 last year. Her husband was sitting in the open boot of the green Peugeot 406, leading a horse on a rope.
Insp Doyle said other drivers appeared to be understanding.
He said a very resourceful garda on the scene succeeded in bringing the horse to the couple's home, which was nearby.
Ms Josiah was also before the court for failing to have two children restrained in the car on another date in Athy.
A two-year-old sat on Ms Josiah's husband's knee in the front seat and the other was behind the passenger seat.
Defence solicitor Matthew Byrne said Mr Josiah, who doesn't read or write, didn't recognise the fixed-charge fines when they arrived in the post and didn't pass them on to his wife, so she hadn't been able to pay them.
He said the Ms Josiah, who is expecting her fifth child, is the only driver in the family at present.
The couple have a people-carrier and neither of them is working, Mr Byrne added.
The solicitor admitted that the case was very unusual but said he had witnessed similar scenes growing up in Dublin.
However, Judge Zaidan said the scenes were akin to what Mr Byrne's great grandfather might have observed.
Questioned by the judge, Ms Josiah said the horse is currently in a field and is not tied to a car anywhere.
Ms Josiah, who has three previous road traffic convictions, also said she appreciates the importance of children wearing their seat-belt.
While the court was initially amused by the case, the judge went on to observe that had any of the drivers sounded their car horn, the horse could have became startled.
The situation could have "gone horribly wrong," he said, convicting Ms Josiah of driving without due care and attention and of carrying and unrestrained child, and imposing fines totalling €600.