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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Speed cases in doubt after ruling on photo evidence

Published 12/07/2014 | 02:30

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A 'GoSafe' speed camera van
A 'GoSafe' speed camera van
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns

A LARGE number of speeding summonses are in doubt after a new court ruling.

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President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns has said that photographs must be provided by gardai as evidence in speeding cases before defendants are brought to court.

He gave his decision in a case taken by Michael Gilvarry of Killala, Co Mayo, who was summonsed for allegedly speeding at 93km in an 80kmh zone in Ballina on October 30 2011

Mr Justice Kearns said that gardai should have provided Mr Gilvarry with a photograph of his car taken on the day of the alleged offence before bringing him to the district court.

The High Court judge said it was not sufficient for a garda to simply state that it is “normal or usually the case” that a photo is included with the summons.

“There must be evidence that it has in fact been given to an accused person before the trial commences,” he said.

The court heard the Gilvarry case has implications for a large number of other cases in the west of Ireland.

They have been on hold since District Judge Mary Devins referred the matter to the High Court for clarification.

Legal sources said yesterday that many of those pending cases could now be dismissed, depending on what stage they are at in the system.

The judge dismissed two other grounds under which Mr Gilvarry had brought his challenge.

He said it was not necessary that the district court should be provided with a copy of the contract between the Department of Justice and the Go Safe company which operates speed detection vans.

It was sufficient for the court to be given evidence that such a contract exists.

He also dismissed the argument that the photograph which is taken by the Go Safe vans is tainted by virtue of having been enhanced, or blown up, to show the car number plate, after it is downloaded through the computer system.

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