A judge has refused an application by former Labour TD Michael McNamara for a Digital Audio Recording (DAR) of the evidence in his dangerous driving case.
At Ennis District Court today (Wednesday), Judge Patrick Durcan refused Mr McNamara’s application for the DAR of the day’s evidence in the case, as the 43 year-old prepares an appeal against his dangerous driving conviction to the circuit court.
The conviction, which carries an automatic two year driving ban, is in respect of Mr McNamara’s driving at Tobernagath, Scariff on December 10, 2016. Mr McNamara can continue to drive pending his appeal being heard.
In court on Wednesday, the solicitor for Mr McNamara said that the application was being made to obtain the DAR to help deal with shortcomings in the prosecution case against him.
The application was opposed by the gardaí with Inspector Tom Kennedy telling Judge Durcan: “That is not what the DAR was designed for.”
Insp Kennedy said that Mr McNamara was fully represented in the district court and that the case went to full hearing there and will now get a fresh hearing in the circuit court on appeal.
Judge Durcan said that he would be refusing the application.He said that Mr McNamara was represented by a solicitor and a barrister in the district court and professional notes taken by his legal team in the district court can deal with any alleged inconsistencies in the State’s case.
Judge Durcan also pointed to a High Court judgment which indicates that such DAR applications should be dealt with conservatively.
Judge Durcan also refused the application stating that he was not satisfied on the basis of what was presented before him that it was necessarily in the interests of justice to grant the application.
He told Insp Kennedy that he hoped that the State would maintain its stance in relation to the DAR application if his order is appealed.
Insp Kennedy assured that the State’s stance would be maintained.
Judge Durcan said that his comments weren’t being directed at Insp Kennedy but stated that “I am not satisfied that the State has adopted a serious attitude in these matters to date”.
Mr McNamara’s appeal in the circuit court is expected to take three hours.
In the district court in January, Judge John King dismissed an accompanying charge against Mr McNamara that he had obstructed a garda in the course of his duties on the same date outside his home.
Judge King said that it would “unfair and unsafe” to convict Mr McNamara of the obstruction charge.
During the incident, Garda Darren McLoughlin pepper sprayed the east Clare man.
In evidence, Mr McNamara told the court that he was “utterly and completely shocked” when pepper sprayed. He said that his eyes “were burning out of my head” after being pepper-sprayed shortly after 2.10am on the night.
Garda McLoughlin said that he pepper-sprayed Mr McNamara during his third attempt to evade custody, as he tried to open the front door of his house. This was strongly denied by Mr McNamara who offered a conflicting account of what occurred.
The appeal has been adjourned to Ennis Circuit Court on May 21.
By Carol Byrne