Thursday 22 February 2018

Three HGV drivers caught driving three abreast in Kerry on Youtube face jail

Three articulated trucks with trailers attached were driven three abreast downhill along the main Limerick to Tralee Road blocking the oncoming lane and the incident was videoed and put up on YouTube for charity, Tralee District Court was told.

The drivers of the trucks, two Polish men and one Irish, all employees of McAuliffe Trucking Ltd Castleisland  pleaded guilty to dangerous driving yesterday. 

Their solicitor Padraig O’Connell said  they had carried out the enterprise on Sunday morning of October 14th 2012 for charity – for the Share a Dream ill children’s charity and for Pieta House the suicide charity, but admitted it could have been better organised

Gardai became aware of the incident of Octber 14th at 11.30 am when a member of the public who saw the video on Youtube complained to the garda national traffic bureau.

One of the drivers was also charged with parking his truck dangerously- the court heard how he parked the truck on the flyover at the Castleisland dual carriageway and two cars struck each other.

Judge James O’Connor described the behaviour “for half a mile three abreast across the road”  as “outlandish”and “scandalous” and among the worst he ever experienced. He rejected a suggestion from solicitor Padraig O’Connell  that there were no consequences. In fact, Judge O’Connor said the “frightful example “ to young men  who viewed it on You Tube and decided to immitate it  might have terrible consequences.

“We don’t know who will follow this. We don’t know the consequences.” The judge said.

Judge O’Connor said the actions of the men – acting for charity but putting the public at risk -  made no sense.

“There was absence of ordinary plain common sense here,” he said.

“It should never have happened. It should never have been advertised. This is scandalous,” Judge O’Connor said warning solicitor Padraig O’Connell they would have to spend a short period in jail.

Garda David Kearney of the Castleisland traffic division told the court how a member  of the public who had viewed the incident  which had been “uploaded on Youtube” complained to gardai nationally and Castleisland gardai investigated.

The trucks, one in his correct lane one one on the right and one on the far right proceeded “three abreast” along the straight  from the viewing point downwhill to where the road narrowed at the bottom. This was for at least 40 seconds.  One of the drivers then parked on the flyover on the dual carriageway of the Castleisland bypass, the garda outlined, saying two cars had collided as a result in a minor collission.

Krzysztof Sokolowski (age 33)  of Main Street, Castleisland, Lorcan Regan (age 20)  of Mein, Knocknagoshel, and Slawomir Kupiec (age 36)  of  Clonough Drive, Limerick Road, Castleisland each pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Dooneen, Castleisland on October 14th 2012. Kupiec also pleaded to dangerous parking at Mullaghmarky,Castleisland  on the date.

A charge against the company, McAuliffe Trucking Ltd, Castleisland, was withdrawn.

Padraig O’Connell, solicitor for all four said there was “a bigger picture” and this was recorded for charity and there was no gain for the men themselves.

“This was all done for charity -Share a Dream children’s charity and the suicide charity Pieta House. Tthis was not done by way of escapism but to record it for charity.”

Mr O’Connell said he had letters from the charities concerned acknowledging donations from the enterprise.

The  three men had “exemplary” driving records and the company which operates in ireland and abroad had “a pristine record.”

“They have pleaded..they know they were wrong. They are embarrassed. They appreciate it could have been better organised with gardai monitoring it.”

The three men were going to have to serve time, Judge O’Connor said. This could be two nights minimum in garda custody he told Mr O’Connell, who pleaded against a longer sentence.

Mr O’Connell  said his instructions were to appeal any custodial sentence.

The matter is to be finalised on Tuesday in Killarney.

Anne Lucey

Irish Independent

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