A HIGHLY experienced member of the traffic corps was found guilty of having no tax or NCT on his car after being spotted by a colleague.
Garda Michael O'Shaughnessy was ordered to pay €3,500 to charity after a judge told him he was not above the law.
But Garda O'Shaughnessy, of Kiltiernan Cross, Croagh, Co Limerick, has escaped a court penalty until the judge can confirm if he has made the contribution to the St Vincent De Paul.
Garda O'Shaughnessy, of Henry Street station, contested the charges before Limerick District Court yesterday.
The head of Limerick's Garda Traffic Corps, Inspector Paul Reidy, said he saw Garda O'Shaughnessy driving a car that had no tax and no NCT.
Insp Reidy said he saw him at Mill Lane, Limerick, on both May 9 and May 31 last year.
He said the car had not been taxed since March 31, and the NCT on the vehicle had been out of date since October 2010.
He said the loss of revenue to the State was €64 .
Garda O'Shaughnessy denied the charges and said, in direct evidence, that he was not even in Limerick on May 31.
He also claimed he was driving a different vehicle on May 9.
Solicitor Dan O'Gorman said his client was not informed about the charges until the middle of September, and questioned whether this was best policing practice.
He described his client as the most experienced member of the Traffic Corps in Limerick with an exemplary record, and claimed there was a "subtext" to the case.
Mr O'Gorman told the court there were difficulties between members and management of the Traffic Corps at Henry Street Garda Station over allowances.
Judge Eugene O'Kelly said his court was not an industrial appeals tribunal and said he did not want to be "bogged down" with whether or not there was a dispute within the Traffic Corps.
He said he was satisfied that the charges had been proven against Garda O Shaughnessy, but he said he was troubled about the implications that a court conviction would have for the garda's career.
Superintendent Dan Flavin agreed a court conviction would have implications for his career and said it would be a matter for a disciplinary tribunal.
Judge O'Kelly said gardai were not above the law and added that the State was entitled to receive tax from them as well as from anybody else.
Garda O Shaughnessy was told to make a contribution of €3,500 to the St. Vincent De Paul in Limerick.
The judge adjourned the case until October 31 to see if it had been paid and he would make his final order on the matter on that date.