Sunday 15 September 2019

Don't you know who I am, car-chase councillor asked

A PROMINENT Fine Gael councillor who told gardai: "Do you know who I am, you can't do me for drink driving", after he crashed his car while being pursued by gardai, has been convicted for careless driving.

However, Frank Kilbride, a Longford county councillor, was not convicted for refusing to give a blood or urine sample because of a technical error in the wording of the charge.

Councillor Kilbride was slurring his words and had a strong smell of alcohol from his breath, according to court evidence by a garda.

But he insisted a bottle of wine broke when he crashed and spilled on his clothes. He was convicted for careless driving but the refusal to give a specimen charge was struck out because of problem with the wording.

The charge alleged he refused to give a sample to a garda rather than a doctor, his defence said. Cllr Kilbride apologised for his behaviour in court.

Yesterday, Fine Gael's road safety spokesperson Shane McEntee TD said: "No one is above the law, no matter who they are. We have to practise what we preach."

Asked about any possible disciplinary action by the party, the spokesman said that this would be a matter for party leader Enda Kenny.

The charges arose following a traffic accident that occurred outside Granard on the Lough Gowna road on March 29 last.

According to a court report in the 'Longford Leader' Garda Yvonne Peoples said that at 2.50am on the date in question she and her colleague, Garda Gavin Gettings were stopped in the patrol car at the junction at the bottom of Colmcille Terrace and the Ballinalee Road in Granard, when a car coming from the left hand side, crossed the junction on the wrong side forcing Garda Gavin Gettings to turn the patrol car to avoid a collision.

Slurring

Gardai pursued the car and moments later they were on the scene of a road traffic accident where the car that the councillor was driving was lying on its roof approximately half a mile outside Granard.

She said she recognised Frank Kilbride lying on the roof of the car and but when she called out to him he failed to respond.

Longford District Court heard that when Cllr Kilbride came around, his face was covered in blood and he was disorientated, slurring his speech and that there was a strong smell of intoxicating liquor coming from his breath.

He then said to Garda Peoples. "Do you know who I am, you can't do me for drink driving?"

When the councillor was brought to Mullingar General Hospital, he refused to provide a urine sample or allow a blood sample to be taken from him. The court heard that he would not co-operate with gardai in relation to the matter.

Under cross examination, Martin Giblin, Junior Counsel suggested to the garda that the smell of alcohol which she deemed to be from the defendant's breath, was in fact the smell of alcohol from Cllr Kilbride's clothing as a result of a bottle of wine which smashed in the car and onto him in the course of the car accident.

Garda Peoples strongly refuted those suggestions.

The charge in relation to his failure to comply with the doctor's requirement of a blood sample was dismissed due to a technical error in the wording of the charge brought against him.

Councillor Kilbride was charged with careless driving and fined €800.

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