JUDGE Patrick Durcan has stated that while legislation is “still not satisfactory” in dealing with the prosecution of those caught for speeding by Go Safe Vans, there is now “a degree of clarity” enabling him to proceed with such cases.
Up to recently, Judge Durcan had adopted a practice of either adjourning or striking out cases of speeding detected by Go Safe Vans until issues surrounding its prosecution were clarified in a High Court case.
At Killaloe District Court this week there were 28 cases listed for prosecution by Inspector John McDonald in respect of Go Safe Van speeding detections. In these cases fixed charge penalty notices are supposed to issue to the alleged offenders.
Of the 28 cases, nine people were present in court to deal with the matter.
He commented, “the legislation is not satisfactory and if there is evidence that [the defendants] did not receive the notice I have to treat that a certain way”.
He outlined that the court had to give equal weight to the evidence of a garda and that of a defendant and if the garda couldn’t give evidence that the defendant received the fixed charge notice, then the case fell down.
Judge Durcan added that the difficulties presented showed that “either we’ve a bad postal service or people don’t understand the oath”.
In dealing with the cases he asked for each of the nine defendants to remain in court so he could address them collectively about the approach the court was taking.
He advised that since a district court hearing in Gort in recent weeks he felt there was more clarity as to the law in these cases and he was now in a position to deal with these matters going forward. “We’re now at a point where we can proceed,” he said.
He advised the nine defendants that if a conviction was recorded, and there may not be a conviction recorded, that “very nominal penalties would be imposed”. He indicated that in the cases he dealt with at Gort District Court he imposed fines of between €5 and €25. “The reason for that was that many people were in court on different occasions,” he said.
In four out of the nine cases at Killaloe District Court, Judge Durcan heard evidence on oath that the defendants never received the initial fixed charge penalty notice and only learned of the offence when they were summoned to court.
In the case of the other five, one woman she said the penalty notice was misplaced at a time when the family had both a wedding and a funeral. Another man said he had missed the deadline and tried to pay but payment was rejected.
A second woman said she mislaid the notice and phoned Killaloe Garda Station and was told she would get a reminder but never got one, while another defendant said his car was registered at his mother’s address but he had not lived there for eight years, and outlined that his deceased father had the same name as him, so this was why he did not receive the notice.
Meanwhile, another woman said she tried paying her fixed charge penalty at her post office but due to electrical problems following recent storms, they could not provide the service.
All of the cases were struck out by Judge Durcan.
The remaining 19 fixed charge penalty cases where no representation was made were adjourned to May 5 next.