Friday 24 November 2017

Six gardai sent to arrest mum for unpaid fine at 3am

Barry Duggan

SIX gardai called to the home of a mother just before 3am to arrest her and bring her to prison over an unpaid €250 traffic fine.

The 27-year-old woman has appeared in Limerick District Court where Judge Eugene O'Kelly extended the time to allow her appeal the case.

The case arose after the Limerick woman was allegedly caught using a mobile phone while driving in 2010.

However, she insists she was not aware of the initial fine or proceedings in the District Court last May when she was convicted and fined €250.

When the court fine was left unpaid, a penal warrant was subsequently issued and forwarded to gardai.

The mother, who lives in a halting site in Limerick, spoke after the court sitting on condition of anonymity.

Last Wednesday morning, gardai arrived at her home just before 3am.

"It was about 2.45am and they knocked at my back door and they had flash lamps and at first I didn't know who it was," she said.

"Then when I opened the door, it was the guards – about six of them.

"When they walked in, they asked us what our names were because my sister was there as well and my mam was in bed and my baby was in bed.

"When they came in then, they said, 'There is a warrant for your arrest'.

"I asked them for what and they said for a mobile phone," she said.

The woman pleaded with the officers not to bring her to prison because of her three-month-old son.

She told gardai she would sort it out that week.

"I said I was not going up to the prison – no way.

"They were fair enough about it, but it was the hour of the morning that was upsetting," she said.

Last Friday, her solicitor Sarah Ryan made an application in Limerick District Court to extend time to allow an appeal.

Granting the application, Judge O'Kelly said he hoped there was some "extraordinary" reason for the gardai attempting to execute the penal warrant at that time of the morning.

Insp John Deasy said it was "not the normal practice" and told the court there may have been specific reasons as to why it was done at that time but did not identify what they were.

"They (penal warrants) should not be executed after midnight or before 7am," Judge O'Kelly added.

Irish Independent

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