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Ambulance driver on mercy dash was pulled up by garda

AN AMBULANCE driver has been found not guilty of careless driving after he was stopped by garda on his way to make an emergency blood collection from a Dublin hospital for a child in the west of Ireland.

Karl Cuffe was prosecuted by the officer, who accused him of "barrelling" through a busy south city junction as he travelled to pick up the package from a nearby hospital, bound for Galway.

But Judge Michael Walsh acquitted him at Dublin District Court, ruling that the case against him did not meet the threshold required for a conviction.

Mr Cuffe, of Harold's Cross Cottages, had pleaded not guilty to driving without due care and attention at Harold's Cross Road on June 23 2011.

Garda Barry Cashman said he was on duty when he saw the accused approach the junction with his siren on and blue lights flashing.

He alleged Mr Cuffe overtook a line of traffic on a continuous white line, broke a red light and went through the junction at speed without slowing down.

UNHAPPY

He said he saw several cars braking. It was a busy junction, where five roads converged.

The garda said he signalled Mr Cuffe to stop and told him he was unhappy with the manner of his driving. The accused was allowed to proceed and later summonsed.

Mr Cuffe said in evidence he ran his own company that was contracted by the HSE. He had undergone voluntary training.

On the day, he was in Ballinteer when he was called to bring a package for a young child from St James's Hospital to University College Hospital, Galway.

He said he had travelled that way countless times and activated his vehicle's blue lights and siren. As he approached the junction, motorists did their best to move in. Mr Cuffe said he paused, looked left and right and a driver flashed him, beckoning him on with his hand.

He insisted he crept into the junction in first gear and was not speeding.

He said he understood that his lights and siren did not give him right of way and, if an accident happened, it would be his fault.

"In the course of your duties, although you are trying to save one person or help them, you should never endanger another member of the public," Mr Cuffe said.

He insisted that Gda Cashman only questioned him about the use of the lights and siren at the scene. He said he pleaded with the garda to be allowed proceed.

EMERGENCY

A State solicitor argued that the accused's driving posed a very real risk to other traffic and that nobody, including drivers of emergency vehicles, was permitted to drive carelessly.

Judge Walsh said he had a doubt in the case, before dismissing it.

aphelan@herald.ie


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