Saturday 21 September 2019

Teacher told to 'get real'

Judge remarks defendant was 'downright difficult' with garda sergeant

A part-time teacher who became 'belligerent' when asked by a garda sergeant for a permit when the officer found him parked in a disabled bay, has appeared before Dundalk court.

Danny Sherry (38), 398 Cypress Gardens, Bay Estate, was charged with giving a false address, a charge he denied.

At the conclusion of a full hearing, Judge Eirinn McKiernan told the defendant she didn't want to leave him with a record, and it was agreed he would make a donation to charity to have the matter struck out.

Sergeant Declan Higgins gave evidence that at 9.40pm on 2 July, 2018, in Clanbrassil Street he saw a black BMW in a disabled parking space.

A man and a young boy were in the vehicle, and when he approached and asked for a permit to park there, the driver became belligerent.

He told the sergeant he parked there because his wife, who was heavily pregnant, was in the chipper.

Sgt Higgins said he then re-assessed the situation, but saw there were plenty of other parking spaces.

The defendant produced a PPS card and said he owned the car. It was his insurance and said Crossmaglen was the address on his driving licence, and 'that's the only address you are going to get.'

Sgt Higgins continued Danny Sherry twice tried to drive off.

He checked on the Pulse system and confirmed his address at 398 Cypress Gardens.

The witness added the accused repeated the address which was on his licence. He did not have a licence on him.

A fixed penalty notice which issued for parking in the disabled bay was subsequently paid.

Cross-examined by solicitor Barry Callan, Sgt Higgins said Sherry didn't tell him his family home was in Crossmaglen.

'He told me the address on the licence was the only address I am going to get.'

Mr Callan submitted his client's family home is in Crossmaglen, where he stays two weeks out of every month.

'Let's get real, Mr Sherry,' remarked Judge McKiernan.

'The guard was just doing his job. You shouldn't have been in the disabled parking bay, end of.

'You were downright difficult. You weren't fair with the guard. If everybody behaved like you, the gardaí wouldn't get any work done.'

The judge continued she believed Sgt Higgins was being very fair in his evidence, and deemed the defendant 'over re-acted'.

She told Mr Callan he could have a few minutes to consult with his client.

When the case resumed, the solicitor said Mr Sherry wanted to give evidence.

He testified that the disabled spot was not clearly marked, though he pointed out he paid the fine.

This occurred during a heatwave. He was wearing shorts and had no licence on him. He wasn't asked to produce his licence.

When his partner got back into the car he tried to let the guard know she needed to use a bathroom.

'He (Sgt Higgins) was leaning against the car. I asked him to get off. Rather than me being belligerent, it was the other way around.'

The witness said he gave the address on his driving licence, as any endorsements would go on it. That address was his family home.

'I live across two addresses. Two weeks every month I live at the family address.'

Judge McKiernan wanted to know if someone asked his principal place of address, what would he say?

The accused replied 398 Cypress Gardens.

'You are getting technical. I have two principal places of residence,' he added.

'When a garda makes a demand, he's entitled to get answers,' the judge replied.

Mr Callan said his client, who served in the Defence Forces, was simply giving an address.

'The reality is, he said 'the only address you're getting,'' Judge McKiernan returned.

She asked Danny Sherry if he accepted he over-reacted?

'He (Sgt Higgins) completely ignored me. I genuinely didn't realise I was in a disabled bay. I hold my hands up. I paid the fine.'

The judge said the guards have a difficult job to do. She didn't want the defendant to have a conviction.

Mr Sherry said both he and his partner made a formal complaint.

He admitted over-reacting 'at a later stage'.

'Be honest. Where is your principal place of residence?' the judge asked.

The defendant responded he kept two vehicles, one in the north, one in the south.

'He didn't ask where I was living, he asked my address.'

The judge said technically the defendant didn't give the address he is residing at.

'I live across two addresses. I own 398 Cypress Gardens.'

Judge McKiernan said she didn't want to leave him with a record.

'Will you make a donation to charity and I won't convict.'

Sherry asked which charity?

The judge said they wouldn't fall out over the charity, and she agreed with his choice of Crumlin Children's Hospital.

Judge McKiernan directed a payment of €100 and adjourned the case to 24 July for that purpose.

The Argus