Election candidate ‘lied through her teeth’ at roadside incident with gardaí
Niamh O’Brien receives four-month jail term after conviction for dangerous driving
Niamh O’Brien who ran for Fís Nua in the 2016 general election was banned from driving for five years.
A judge has stated that a former general election candidate engaged in “despicable behaviour” towards gardaí in a roadside incident in which a member suffered “horrific injuries” to his hand.
Judge Durcan made his comments before imposing a suspended four-month jail term, fines totalling €2,100 and a ban on mother of one, Ms O’Brien (35) from driving for five years, after convicting her of dangerous driving and the road traffic offences.
In the 2016 general election in Clare, Ms O’Brien ran for Fís Nua and shared the ballot paper with Timmy Dooley and Minister for State, Pat Breen, polling 1,154 or 2 per cent of the first preference votes in the four-seater constituency.
On May 28th of last year, Ms O’Brien of Lake Isle, O’Callaghan’s Mills in east Clare was stopped by gardaí at Cutteen Cross, Cutteen, Tulla, Co Clare.
However, Ms O’Brien refused to provide any documentation to the gardaí and reversed at speed in a bid to get away.
As she was doing so, Garda Declan Condon ran alongside the reversing car, smashed the driver’s window with his baton, resulting in the Garda suffering the “horrific injuries” to his hand from the flying glass.
Det Sgt Ronan O’Hara said that as he saw Garda Condon “trying to run backwards, my thought was she was going to reverse into a car coming around the blind bend or drive over Garda Condon”.
Garda Condon told the court he suffered two severed tendons in his middle and ring fingers and the injuries have still not fully recovered.
Det Sgt O’Hara said that he detected a smell of cannabis from Ms O’Brien and she was then brought to a nearby Garda Station where she refused to provide a specimen of blood or urine to see if she was under the influence.
In sentencing Ms O’Brien, Judge Durcan said: “Ms O’Brien’s behaviour was despicable and simply reflects the growing trend on the part of a group of people in this country who believe that they can take on the forces of law and order and the gardaí.”
He said: “She provided incorrect and deceitful instructions to her solicitor, Tara Godfrey to defend the case. She lied through her teeth to Ms Godfrey saying that she didn’t know who she was dealing with when stopped by the gardaí and Ms O’Brien was caught out lying through her teeth.”
Ms O’Brien videoed the roadside interaction with the gardaí on her phone and the footage was used by the State in the prosecution.
In the footage, Ms O’Brien can be heard to say, “Are you acting under oath? Ye seem to be forgetting it an awful lot lately lads . . . I don’t have to answer any of your questions because you are refusing to tell me that you are acting under the oath . . . Ye are in enough trouble as it is now lads without stopping people at the side of the road for pieces of paper’.
Judge Durcan described Ms O’Brien’s behaviour in the video clips as “appalling” and said that the clips should be sent to the Garda College at Templemore as a teaching aid for gardaí for how they should act under severe provocation.
Ms O’Brien did not appear in court for the case and she was sentenced in her absence. Ms Godfrey said that apart from a couple of driving-related offences prior to his incident, Ms O’Brien has led an otherwise good life.