Saturday 18 November 2017

Drove off from checkpoint and injured Officer

Declan Morgan.
Declan Morgan.

A DRIVER who drove off from a Revenue checkpoint in North Louth in his Northern registered car injured a female customs officer after verbally abusing her and her colleague, the district court heard last week.

Declan Morgan, 1 Railway Cottage, Lordship, admitted two charges taken by the Revenue - having an unregistered vehicle and failing to keep the vehicle stationary at the checkpoint in Bellurgan on June 6 2013.

Judge Flann Brennan heard how Revenue officials were operating an oil dipping checkpoint at Bellurgan and when they saw Morgan's Northern vehicle they stopped him. He was in the car on his own and officials, after speaking to Morgan, made inquiries and discovered that he had been given a warning two years previously by Revenue about registering the car in the state but he hadn't done it.

The female officer got into the passenger seat of Morgan's car to speak to him because of the traffic going past. In addition, a second official was trying to get a sample from his fuel tank.

The male official, who gave evidence at the district court in the case, prosecuted by State solicitor Fergus Mullen, said Morgan was very abusive to his colleague and he overheard the defendant tell the woman: 'Get out of the f**king car'.

The male official said Morgan had been using 'colourful language' from the moment he was stopped, telling the official dipping the tank to 'be careful with that for f**k's sake'.

Shortly afterwards, Morgan revved up the car and drove off. The female officer was lying on the ground with cuts to her arm and she was shaking. She had fallen on the road and was off work for a couple of days.

Revenue officials said Morgan, a divorced father-of-two, had been stopped and warned in May 2011 about bringing the car in, but despite making an inquiry with them the following month, he hadn't done it. He has no previous convictions.

Solicitor Conor Breen said his client's 82-year-old father had been taken ill that morning, just three days after his mother, who has since passed away, was brought to hospital.

Morgan himself told the judge that his father wouldn't go to hospital despite having pains and he was on his way to his sister's house, having spoken to Dundalk-born heart specialist Dr Hugh McCann about his dad. Mr McCann had recommended the father come to the Mater Private Hospital as soon as possible and Morgan was making arrangements with his sister when he was stopped by Revenue.

The defendant added his company had gone into liquidation in January this year and he is in difficult financial circumstances. He apologised to the court and to the Revenue officials about his behaviour and added he had given them his address and phone number so that they could see him at another time instead of interviewing him at the side of the road.

He said he has handed the car back to the showroom in Newry and it was sold in October last year. Morgan added: 'I want to apologise again to the two officers. I'm sorry for my actions'.

Judge Brennan said he was taking a 'very serious view' of the matter where an officer was injured 'doing no more than their ordinary duty'. He said he couldn't ignore that or the fact that Morgan had driven the vehicle for a 'considerable time' after getting the warning from Revenue in 2011.

He imposed fines totalling €5,000.

The Argus

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