Sorry Mr truck driver, but could you skip the garden if possible
AN allegedly drunken truck driver has admitted "making shite" of the Justice Minister's garden.
However, questions have been raised about whether a statement the driver gave can be used in court.
Judge Terence O'Sullivan was told yesterday the admissability of a statement in which Patrick Hayes is alleged to have confessed to ripping up the lawn at Michael McDowell's Ranelagh home may decide the issue.
Solicitor Robert Dore, who is fronting an appeal by Hayes against a drunken driving conviction and fine, told Judge O'Sullivan in the Circuit Civil Court he should throw out the statement Hayes admits having made to gardai.
Mr Dore said the statement, in which Hayes (38) said he drank half a bottle of vodka and six cans of beer before driving to Mr McDowell's house to lift a skip, was made regarding criminal damage to the garden, and not in relation to an intoxilizer test.
Judge O'Sullivan said he was slightly amused by the rather colourful phrasing of the statement in which Hayes had said: "I made shite of the garden trying to reverse the truck."
Prosecution solicitor Ray Briscoe said the court should accept the statement which had been made voluntarily and signed by Hayes after caution.
He told the court Hayes had been fined €800, disqualified from driving for a year and had his licence endorsed in the District Court in April 2006.
Mr Briscoe said the conviction had related to a call by gardai to Mr McDowell's home at Charleston Road, Ranelagh, Dublin.
Garda Conor Bresnan said he had been on the beat in Ranelagh on July 30, 2005, when he had been called to the house. At 2:10pm he had been met by the Justice Minister, who told him a Green Star skip lorry had entered his property to collect a skip and had damaged his lawn.
Mr McDowell had spoken to Hayes and had believed he had drink taken. Hayes had been beside the lorry, embedded in the lawn, and had admitted driving the lorry from his home at Ballyfermot Avenue, Ballyfermot, Dublin, to Mr McDowell's house.
"I got a very strong smell of alcohol from Mr Hayes, whose eyes appeared to be glazed," Garda Bresnan said. "I asked him if he had been drinking and he said he had drunk a half bottle of vodka and a number of cans of Budweiser at his home that morning."
Believing he was incapable of having control of a mechanically propelled vehicle he had arrested him at 2:20pm for drink driving and had taken him to Terenure Garda Station for an intoxilizer test.
Garda Bresnan said when Hayes was released he and Det Garda Thomas Gormley spoke to him outside the station and told him he might wish to make a statement regarding the damage to Mr McDowell's garden. He had not been under arrest at the time, had been cautioned and the statement had been voluntary.
He told Mr Briscoe there had been a lot of damage to the garden and there was an issue of criminal damage. Hayes had explained he had a serious drink problem and needed drink to cope with the day. Garda Bresnan told Mr Dore that Hayes had admitted having driven the truck that day from Ballyfermot to Charleston Road.
Mr Dore submitted there was no evidence, as required by law, that Hayes had driven the truck in a public place within a three-hour period prior to the intoxilizer test.
Judge O'Sullivan accepted that Mr McDowell's garden was not a public place and that, apart from his statement about damage to the garden, there was no precise evidence before the court of Mr Hayes having driven the truck within the three-hour period.
Mr McDowell could have come out of his house several hours after the truck had entered his property.
Mr Briscoe said the statement by Mr Hayes had been given under caution and had been a voluntary one.
Judge O'Sullivan said the issues he had to decide were whether the arrest was valid and, if so, was there evidence of a valid time of driving to substantiate that arrest. He reserved judgment.