Judge asks are men in speed camera vans reading comic books

Ennis District Court Judge Patrick Durcan adjourned all Go Safe-connected prosecutions before him

Judge Patrick Durcan adjourned all Go Safe-connected prosecutions before him after raising concerns over the evidential basis of photographs taken by the vans’ cameras of alleged speeding motorists. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Judge Patrick Durcan adjourned all Go Safe-connected prosecutions before him after raising concerns over the evidential basis of photographs taken by the vans’ cameras of alleged speeding motorists. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Sat, Mar 22, 2014, 01:01


A judge said yesterday that what the men behind the glass do in their speed camera vans had long been shrouded in mystery with people wondering if they spend their time reading the Beano or the Dandy.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan adjourned all Go Safe-connected prosecutions before him after raising concerns over the evidential basis of photographs taken by the vans’ cameras of alleged speeding motorists.

The adjournments, to May 2nd, place a large question mark over any Go Safe prosecutions proceeding in the Clare district in the next six weeks.


Failing to prosecute
In two previous sittings, where Go Safe-connected prosecutions were listed, Judge Durcan slammed the private firm that operated the network of speed camera vans.

At Kilrush District Court last Tuesday, he described as a complete waste of public money Go Safe personnel coming to court failing to prosecute alleged speeding motorists.

Seven staff from the private Go Safe firm were in court yesterday in connection with the prosecution of 11 motorists accused of speeding. In three of the cases, the State did not proceed with evidence, resulting in Judge Durcan striking off those summons.

In the first case, Go Safe official Paul Bennett gave evidence of Margaret Barnett of Killaloe speeding at 66km/h in a 50km/h zone on September 2nd.

Insp John O’Sullivan of Ennis Garda station said that as a result of information downloaded, a fixed charge penalty remained unpaid. Ms Barnett told the court that she did try to pay the notice.

Judge Durcan asked Mr Bennett: “What were you doing in the van?”

Mr Bennett replied: “What we do is go to a location for a set number of hours and monitor the speed of motorists.”

Judge Durcan said: “Are you observing or is the machine continuously recording?” Mr Bennett said the camera machine was continuously recording.


Chain of evidence
Judge Durcan told Insp O’Sullivan that Mr Bennett “doesn’t know what vehicle” went by. “What evidence do I have for the picture that is taken and downloaded? There has to be a clear chain of evidence.”

Insp O’Sullivan said he would have Insp John McDonald of the Garda Fixed Charge processing unit in Thurles to give evidence on the adjourned date on May 2nd.