Tipperary Hurler Cathal Barrett
Tipperary 2016 All Star Hurler and former young hurler of the year Cathal Barrett was fined €200 today (September 19th) and disqualified from driving for two years at Thurles District Court, for being in charge of a vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit.
Judge Elizabeth MacGrath heard that Oscar Kinsella walked by the defendant’s vehicle in O’Donovan Rossa Street, Thurles, on March 3, 2018, following a fall of heavy snow. Mr Kinsella gave evidence that he saw what appeared to be two people in the vehicle, and the “two people looked as if they were dead.”
Gardaí were called, and Garda David Carey said he arrived at the scene at about 7am. Garda Carey observed the vehicle “out on the road in a public place.” The lights were on in the front, and there were two people inside. The Garda observed tyre marks through the snow, and he knocked on the window.
Mr Barrett, of Beakstown, Holycross, Thurles, was in the driver’s seat. Barrett went to put on his safety belt, and the keys were in the ignition, said Garda Carey. Garda Carey told Barrett it was an offence to park on the road, and made a lawful demand for a breath specimen. The reading from the breath test showed ‘fail’. Garda Carey said he formed the opinion that Barrett was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of an intoxicant. Barrett made no reply.
A breath test later showed that Barrett had 65 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 22 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath for an experienced driver.
Solicitor Mr Patrick Kennedy said his client was in the car after a “particularly bad weekend” of heavy snow. If the Garda had not knocked on the door, “he would have slept for another few hours,” said Mr Kennedy. “Nobody could say when he was going to drive.”
“I thought the vehicle had crashed on the road,” said Garda Carey. The vehicle was out on the public road, and well past the parking space.
Garda Tom Finnan said he received a report of a crashed vehicle at around 7am, and they arrived at the scene at 7.05am. They found the defendant’s vehicle “parallel to a parked car.” The car was facing towards Templemore.
Mr Kennedy put it to the Gardaí that other vehicles were parked “everywhere” due to the snow storm. “The car should have been parked better,” said the Garda.
Judge MacGrath cited a Supreme Court case judgement which found that it was up to the defendant in such a case to “show to the contrary” that it was not his intention to drive the vehicle, and it was up to the defendant to “come forward to give evidence.” Mr Kennedy said his client was not coming forward to give evidence.
Judge MacGrath said the prosecution’s evidence was that they found the car parked parallel to another parked car, there were tracks to the car, the keys were in the ignition, the lights were on, and when the Garda knocked on the window, Mr Barrett “put on the safety belt when he saw the Garda.”
In those circumstances, and considering that the defendant did not attempt to rebut the evidence, Judge MacGrath said she found the facts proven. “He was entitled to rebut it but did not rebut it.”
Judge MacGrath said the maximum penalty for such an offence is €5,000 but she would exercise her discretion and impose a €200 fine. Mr Barrett, a student, was disqualified from driving for two years. In the event of an appeal, recognisances were set at the defendant's own bail of €250.
Barrett was Young Hurler of the Year in 2014 and he earned the right corner-back spot on the 2016 GAA/GPA Opel All-Star team but he was dropped from the Senior Panel in May.