Former Limerick hurling captain banned from driving for 12 months
A FORMER two-time All-Star hurler was disqualified from driving for 12 months yesterday after he was convicted of failing to report a road accident in which he knocked a man down.
Retired former Limerick hurling captain Mark Foley (36), who denied the charge under hit and run legislation, had appeared in court on foot of a garda summons after telling gardai he knocked down a 24-year-old man on October 16, 2010, on the N21 road at Ballyfrawley, Newcastle West.
Mr Foley -- who was one of the county's most capped championship hurlers with 47 appearances under his belt -- had pleaded not guilty to an offence under Section 106 of the Road Traffic Act, namely failing to provide gardai with information about an accident in which a man was seriously injured.
Yesterday, Newcastle West District Court heard Mr Foley, of Abbeyview, Adare, Co Limerick, told gardai he had been driving to meet a friend at around 1.30am when the incident occurred.
Mr Foley said the injured party had "staggered" on to the road from inside the hard shoulder when the impact occurred.
He said he hit the man after he "fell over the yellow line and on to the road".
The pedestrian, Arturas Grabliauskas (24), originally from Lithuania, who had been living in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, sustained a broken leg and a broken arm in the collision.
A medical report noted that there had been a smell of alcohol on Mr Grabliauskas, who had previously told the court he had gone to a pub prior to the incident but couldn't remember anything from the night.
"I was in deep shock. I feared he was dead. I pulled into the hard shoulder.
"I checked his pulse. I heard moaning and I noticed his leg was twisted," Mr Foley told gardai.
Mr Foley rang his uncle, Gerry Foley, a retired garda and asked him for his advice, the court heard.
"He told me to get the injured man to hospital and ring an ambulance.
"I placed the man into the car and rushed him to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital. I put him in a wheelchair," Mr Foley told gardai.
Asked by gardai why he didn't call an ambulance, Mr Foley replied: "I thought I'd be quicker".
He agreed he didn't call gardai, and he didn't dial 999.
The court heard the former hurler "felt sick" when he arrived at the hospital.
Mr Foley told a nurse there had been an accident.
He was told to go to a waiting room and the hospital phoned gardai.
He later went with gardai to the scene of the collision, where he pointed out where he thought the crash had occurred.
Mr Foley told gardai he didn't see the injured party until he "stumbled" out from the hard shoulder in front of him, forcing Mr Foley to swerve to the right.
He said the road was poorly lit, the pedestrian was "wearing black clothes", that there were cars coming against him with their lights on and that it was a foggy night."
"I panicked," he told gardai.
When a nurse at the hospital asked if the gardai had been called, Mr Foley replied: "No".
Counsel for Mr Foley said: "Morally my client behaved no better than he could have given the circumstances.
"He remained with Mr Grabliauskas.
"The question is was the information given to gardai as soon as possible.
"Mark Foley's behaviour throughout this ordeal was commendable and he ought not to be penalised for doing his civic duty."
Judge Mary O'Halloran said she was "satisfied" Mr Foley had breached the Road Traffic Act legislation on the "hit and run, failure to report the circumstances to a member of An Garda Siochana at the earliest opportunity."
The judge fined Mr Foley €350 with 20 days to pay, and disqualified him from driving for a period of 12 months.
Recognisance of €400 and an independent surety of €400 was also fixed.
Speaking outside the court after the sentence was imposed, Mr Foley said: "We're just happy it's over now, and I'd like to wish the injured party the best of luck.
"I suppose I'm happy enough that what I did on the night was what was best for the injured party and, I just hope he makes a full recovery. Thanks very much."