Monday 27 May 2019

Footballer (25) had to be pulled from his car

Was already disqualified from driving at time of incident

A senior intercounty footballer has avoided a jail sentence after being convicted at Dundalk court of dangerous driving and having no insurance.

Armagh player Edward English (25) was fined €500 and disqualified for five years on one of two counts of dangerous driving and fined a further €500 and disqualified for three years for having no insurance.

The defendant, an electrician, of 8 Poets Meadow, Mullaghbawn, had denied charges resulting from an incident in the early hours of Sunday, 9 October, 2016, when gardaí used batons to smash the windscreen when English refused to get out of a Volkswagen Passat stopped in traffic outside Brubaker's in Park Street.

CCTV footage was viewed in court.

Garda Leonard Clarke said at 10.38pm on 8 October, 2016, he was made aware of a car on its way into Dundalk, the driver of which was allegedly intoxicated.

He located this vehicle in a car-park at Toolfix. No one was inside.

At 2.50am, a male got into the car and started to drive. He crossed the junction without stopping and went up Anne Street at speed.

Gda Clarke said he could see Garda Anthony Quane following. The offending car went towards oncoming traffic, forcing them out of the way, and at The Crescent roundabout managed to evade Gda Quane's patrol car and head back down Anne Street.

Gda Clarke said he blocked the road with his patrol car.

'He mounted the kerb around my vehicle and I could see the driver is the man in court today.'

English turned left onto Park Street. A taxi stopped outside Brubaker's blocked him and when he crossed to the wrong side of the road oncoming vehicles forced him back in.

There was a lot of foot traffic and English revved his engine and tried to push his way through the crowd.

Gda Leonard said he opened the driver's door and got a smell of drink. English resisted arrest and was removed from the vehicle. He was placed in handcuffs.

'He was certainly struggling with us. He was strong-arming us and wouldn't come out of the car,' the witness told defence counsel.

Sergeant Kevin Toner, on beat patrol with Garda Graham Doolan, said they roared at English to get out of the car. He twice revved the engine.

'We took out our batons and roared at him again.'

He said he struck the driver's window, and Garda Doolan the windscreen, shattering it.

'We shouted and roared at him. I showed the him the baton, he still revved the car,' said Sgt Toner.

He continued he was not directly involved in removing the driver.

'I was standing over him. He was placed on the ground and handcuffed while on the ground.'

The court heard the accused gave a breath sample at the garda station which showed a reading of 64mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

He initially gave an incorrect address and date of birth.

Barrister Mark D O'Hagan applied for a direction on two points.

He said a Section 13 certificate in respect of the drink driving charge was not duly completed as Gda Clarke signed it subsequent to Edward English, rather than before.

Mr O'Hagan also submitted that unreasonable force was used to effect the arrest.

Judge Jones dismissed a charge of drink driving, but said there was a case to answer otherwise.

'This was a terrifying ordeal. This defendant was running from the gardaí in a reckless and dangerous manner.

'Members of the public don't appreciate enough what gardaí do. People were spilling onto the street.'

The judge indicated English's liberty was at stake, and he was told the accused had made an unsuccessful complaint to the ombudsman.

'I believe he was heading for outside the jurisdiction. I'm very disturbed about his manner of driving.'

Mr O'Hagan said his client would not be giving evidence.

He said Edward English is an electrician with Liam Muldoon and does contracts all over and needs his car for work.

He still lives in the family home and plays county football at senior level, training four nights a week. He is on the panel since 2017.

Mr O'Hagan said English has a number of convictions in Northern Ireland. This is his first offence in the south.

The court heard he was a disqualified driver at the time of this incident.

Judge Jones said he would rise for five minutes and advised Mr O'Hagan he wanted to be told why he should not send Edward English to Mountjoy Prison for three months.

Counsel said his client is a man who has grown up since. His mother is very ill.

Edward English took the stand and apologised for his actions that night when he was going through a tough time.

'I've got my life back around. I'm playing football and training four or five nights a week.'

He told the judge he will never be in front of him again.

Judge Jones imposed fines and concurrent disqualifications as outlined, ordering the fines be paid immediately.

Other charges were taken into consideration.

The Argus