Anti-vaccination campaigner fined for breaching Covid-19 restrictions

Campaigner fined €450 for breaching 5km limit during lockdown and for speeding

Anti-vaccination campaigner Antonio Mureddu. Photograph: NW Newspix

Anti-vaccination campaigner Antonio Mureddu. Photograph: NW Newspix

 

An anti-vaccination campaigner has been convicted and fined a total of €450 for breaching Covid-19 regulations by driving more than five kilometres from his address at a time when temporary travel restrictions were in place earlier this year, and for speeding on the same occasion.

Antonio Mureddu (44), with an address at the Headford Arms, Main Street, Headford, Co Galway, appeared on Thursday before Galway District Court which heard that he was seeking €50,000 in compensation from the State unless the charges against him were dropped.

Lorna Burke, solicitor for the accused in his absence when the matter was first heard last month, told the court on Thursday she was coming off record as Mr Mureddu wished to represent himself from now on.

Judge John Brennan asked Mr Mureddu in the morning to wait outside until his case was called at the end of the criminal list as he was not wearing a face mask. When the matter was called in the afternoon, Mr Mureddu indicated he was contesting the matters.

Garda Garrett Cafferkey gave evidence he was conducting a speed check at Glenascaul, Oranmore, at 1.55pm on April 10th last when he detected a Corsa travelling at 134km/h in a 100km/h zone. He followed the car in his marked patrol car and stopped it at Coolagh, Oranmore, where he spoke to the accused.

Garda Cafferkey said the Covid 5km travel limit was in force at the time and he demanded to know where the driver was going and where had he had come from. He said Mureddu refused to tell him.

“I told him I would issue a speeding ticket and he said he would accept the speeding ticket. I also told him a fixed-charge penalty notice for breaching Covid regulations would be issued if he didn’t inform me of the reasons for his journey, to see if it was essential.

“Mr Mureddu then said to me: ‘I will bring you to the Supreme Court. It will cost you money and your job, I swear to you.’ He said he could go wherever be wanted.”

The Garda said he later issued two fixed-charge penalty notices and neither was paid.

Documents

In reply to Insp Finbarr Philpott, prosecuting, Garda Cafferkey said he was in uniform and driving a marked patrol car that day. He said he received registered correspondence from the accused last Tuesday which contained a number of documents.

One of these purported to be a contract, and stated: “Any man or woman acting as an agent for the Irish State who wishes to interfere with my God-given right to travel peacefully, he or she agrees to pay me €50,000.”

The judge remarked the same documents had been handed into the court by Mr Mureddu. He had been handed an additional document, he said, which was a notice challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

Mr Mureddu told the judge he did not give jurisdiction or consent to anybody in the courtroom to judge him.

“And you’re demanding money from the State, you’re demanding compensation?” the judge asked. Mr Mureddu said he would not be demanding compensation if the case against him was dismissed.

The judge told Mr Mureddu that, having read his documents and listened to his submissions, he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the State had proven its case and he was convicting him.

Insp Philpott said Mr Mureddu had two previous convictions, including a speeding conviction recorded in January 2019, for which he was fined €500, and in 2011 he was convicted of dangerous driving at Galway Circuit Court.

In reply to the judge, Mr Mureddu confirmed he was unemployed, paying rent and in receipt of social welfare.

The judge fined Mr Mureddu €150 for the speeding offence and €300 for breaching the temporary Covid regulation in place at the time, which he said reflected the serious nature of the offence. He gave Mureddu six months to pay both fines as he was unemployed and granted him leave to appeal the convictions.