Judge urges rethink on law as speed vans 'a waste of money'
A JUDGE has asked that the legislation surrounding the operation of private speed vans be re-examined.
Judge Patrick Durcan made the comments as a number of prosecutions were brought before his court yesterday, where he also questioned whether the people who operate speed camera vans are sitting in the vans reading comics.
He said what the men behind the glass do in their speed camera vans has long been shrouded in mystery, with people wondering if they spend their time "reading the Beano or the Dandy".
At Ennis District Court yesterday he adjourned all Go Safe connected prosecutions before him, after raising concerns over the evidential basis of photographs taken by the vans' cameras of alleged speeding motorists.
The judge adjourned the cases yesterday to May 2, placing a large question mark over any Go Safe prosecutions proceeding in the Clare district over the next six weeks.
At Kilrush District Court last Tuesday, Judge Durcan described as a "complete waste of public money" Go Safe personnel coming to court and failing to prosecute alleged speeding motorists.
Yesterday, seven staff from the private Go Safe firm were in attendance in connection with 11 separate alleged speeding motorists.
In three of the cases, the State did not proceed with evidence resulting in Judge Durcan striking off those summons.
In the first case to be heard, Go Safe official Paul Bennett gave evidence of Margaret Barnett of The Green, Killaloe, Co Clare, speeding at 66km per hour in a 50km speed zone at Sixmilebridge on September 2.
Insp John O'Sullivan of Ennis Garda Station told the court that as a result of the information downloaded, a fixed charge penalty was issued and that has remained unpaid. Ms Barnett told the court that she did try to pay the notice.
Cross-examining Mr Bennett, Judge Durcan asked: "What were you doing in the van?"
"What we do is go to a location for a set number of hours and monitor the speed of motorists," he said.
When asked if he was observing or if the machine is continuously recording, he said the camera machine is continuously recording.
Judge Durcan told Insp O'Sullivan that the Go Safe 'man in the van', Paul Bennett "doesn't know what vehicle went by".
"The only evidence is that Mr Bennett was operating the speed camera. I would like the State to look at the legislation more closely and present the full legalities involved."
Insp O'Sullivan said Insp John McDonald of the Garda Fixed Charge processing unit in Thurles would give evidence on the adjourned date of May 2.