Saturday 25 November 2017

Two men claim district judge unfair to them over traffic offences - courts

Tim Healy

TWO men want convictions for road traffic offences overturned because the District Court judge who heard their case allegedly acted unfairly towards them.

Lorry driver Gavin Byrne of Cabra View, Kingscourt, Co Cavan, and labourer Shane Carolan, Barry Hill, Kingscourt were banned from driving for two years and fined by Judge Sean McBride at Virgina District Court earlier this month.

 

During the course of the hearing Judge referred to the men of telling "lies" and told their legal representative that he was sick of them coming into court "with these slimy lies" and representing thugs.

 

The two, who denied the allegations , say Judge McBride's behaviour towards them departed radically for the standards of impartiality and opened mindedness required of District Judges.

 

They want the High Court to overturn the penalties imposed on them claiming that during the District Court hearing, the Judge displayed an irrational animus to them and their solicitor.

 

Judge McBride acted inappropriately and in a manner to intimidate the solicitor from performing their function during a criminal proceedings, it is claimed.

 

The men were before the District Court arising of summonses issued after a Garda stopped a Northern Ireland registered black Isuzu Trooper, owned by Mr Byrne, at Lower Main Street Kingscourt on July 6 last. At the time the jeep was being driven by Mr Carolan.

 

Mr Byrne was summoned for allegedly failing to have the jeep properly insured, and that he failed to produce the jeep's registration book for inspection by a member of the Garda Siochana.

 

Mr Carolan, who was driving the vehicle, was before the court in relation to a number of alleged offences including that he was not insured to use the jeep on the date in question.

 

Today, Feichin McDonagh SC for the men said that the case before the District Court essentially boiled down to whether there were seats in the back of the vehicle or not.

 

If there were seats then then Mr Carolan was insured. Both men said in their evidence that there were at all times seats in the back of the jeep, and that the parties were validly insured.

 

The Garda prosecuting the case did not accept there were seats in the back of the jeep, counsel said.

 

Counsel said that photographic evidence, form both the defence and the prosecution, confirming that there were seats in the back of the jeep were produced, the Judge stated that he was not going to be considered by him.

 

Counsel said that Judge McBride then went on to insist that Mr Byrne leave the witness box before he had finished giving his evidence, and proceeded to call the witness " a liar" that he didn't believe him and "Get out of the box".

 

The men's solicitor was then called unprofessional by the Judge after protesting that they could not defend the case. Mr Byrne was allowed to return to the witness box and recommenced giving his evidence.

 

Mr Carolan took the witness box, and told the court there were seats in the back of the jeep.

 

Mr Carolan after giving his testimony was described by Judge McBride as being a "thug to society," and had lied to the court, and had "no respect for the law."

 

Judge McBride went on to convict both, banned them from driving for two years. Mr Byrne was fined €1000, while Mr Carolan was fined €500.

 

The Judge also said he was sick of seeing their solicitor representing thugs and coming into court "with these slimy lies," which he did not believe.

 

In their High Court action against Judge McBride they want the High Court to quash their convictions. A stay has been placed on their convictions pending the final outcome of their action. The Director of Public Prosecutions had been put on notice to the action.

 

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis (one side only), by Mr Justice Michael Peart.  The matter was made returnable to a date in May.

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