TV interior designer had open vodka bottle in car and laughed when breathalyser attempts failed, court hears
AN interior designer who featured on Virgin Media’s Showhouse Showdown and RTE’s Roomers was found parked halfway into the hard shoulder on the M1 motorway with an open bottle of vodka on the seat of her car.
Anne Marie Hamill (48) had three opportunities to blow into a breathalyser, but made only partial attempts.
A garda gave evidence that she laughed when the mouthpiece came off the machine on her second attempt, though Hamill denied this.
She claimed she was unable to catch a breath because she had a chest infection and was on antibiotics and steroid medication.
She also said she had pulled over on the M1 because she felt very unwell and had contacted someone to collect her.
Judge Dermot Dempsey fined her €750 and disqualified her from driving for four years.
Hamill, of Dunleer, Co Louth, was found guilty of failing to provide a breath specimen last January 14.
Garda David Woods told Swords District Court that gardai received a number of reports about a vehicle driving dangerously on the M1.
He said he went to the scene and found a 181-registered vehicle parked half on the hard shoulder and half in the left lane, obstructing traffic.
Gda Woods said he approached the car and spoke to Hamill.
She was slurring her words, there was a smell of alcohol and an open container of vodka was on the seat. He said Hamill was taken to Balbriggan Garda Station to provide a breath specimen.
Garda Kevin Fitzpatrick gave evidence that Hamill was given three opportunities to blow into the breathalyser.
He said Hamill made “no real attempt” on the first go.
On her second she half did it, but the mouthpiece came off and she laughed and sat down.
Hamill also made a partial attempt on her third go.
Hamill’s lawyer argued his client was unable to provide a breath specimen owing to physical incapacity.
In her evidence, Hamill claimed she had been suffering from a chest infection, which developed into bronchitis, and was on her third dose of antibiotics and steroids in a month.
She said she told the jailer, Garda David Whyte, about this, and understood all officers would have been aware of this.
Gda Whyte accepted this medical information was in the garda records. However, Gda Fitzpatrick said Hamill never indicated she had any problems with blowing into the machine.
When asked if there was anything inhibiting her blowing into the breathalyser, Gda Fitzpatrick said Hamill “shrugged her shoulders and said no”.
Finding her guilty, Judge Dempsey said Hamill never raised any medical condition with Gda Fitzpatrick.
The court heard Hamill was a single mother-of-three, and was a self-employed interior designer, with offices in Louth and Dublin.
Judge Dempsey agreed to defer the four-year disqualification until the end of January.
Hamill previously appeared on Roomers, presented by Neville Knott, where three designers were challenged to overhaul rooms in homes across the country.
She also appeared on Showhouse Showdown, presented by Knott and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, where two designers went head to head to transform identical properties.