Clare bachelor farmer (82) beats no seatbelt charge

John Joseph McCabe said wearing a seat-belt is ‘sacrosanct’ – it saved his life in Portugal

Garda Brian O’Callaghan said he saw Mr McCabe grapple with his seatbelt causing his jeep to zig-zag along the road.

Garda Brian O’Callaghan said he saw Mr McCabe grapple with his seatbelt causing his jeep to zig-zag along the road.


Bachelor farmer John Joseph McCabe (82) has beaten a no seatbelt charge from the Garda traffic corps after telling a judge that wearing a seatbelt is sacrosanct to him as it saved his life in Portugal.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan dismissed a Garda prosecution against Mr McCabe of Skehanagh, Clarecastle over the alleged non-wearing of a seatbelt last August.

The judge said Mr McCabe’s “very definite view” that he was wearing a seatbelt on August 4th last at Skehanagh had placed a slight doubt in his mind on the State case and as a result he had to dismiss the charge.

So eager was Mr McCabe to give his evidence that he took up position and sat down in the witness box while the judge was hearing the facts in the case before his.

After the judge dismissed the prosecution against him, Mr McCabe informed the judge “I found a bank card here on the floor here” and handed the bank card over to the court registrar.

Judge Durcan commented “you are very good Mr McCabe, the dismissal was very justified” to laughter in the court.

During the Celtic Tiger era, Mr McCabe scooped the largest amount of any land-deal in Clare when he sold 48 acres of land for €18.8 million to a Galway developer, Stephen Harris in 2005.

In his evidence, Garda Brian O’Callaghan said on Friday, the 4th of August last at 2.32pm at Skehanagh, Clarecastle, he observed Mr McCabe driving his 07 CE registered silver Toyota Hilux without wearing a seat-belt.


Garda O’Callaghan said he then saw Mr McCabe grapple with the belt causing the jeep to zig-zag along the road. He stopped and spoke to Mr McCabe and by this time he had the seat belt fastened.

Garda O’Callaghan said Mr McCabe “was irate throughout my dealings with him”.

In his sworn evidence, Mr McCabe said: “I had my seatbelt on. I am most emphatic about that because a seatbelt saved my life. A seatbelt is sacrosanct to me because it helped me survive a hit on the Continent in Portugal. The seatbelt burned right from my shoulder and across my chest and it stamped in my mind the importance of a seatbelt.”

He said: “It gave me a new lease of life after and I treasure my survival. On that basis, I am an old man and ever since, I make sure that I wear a seatbelt.”

“I am 82 years and the seatbelt is a major factor that I have survived to this age.”

In response, Judge Durcan said: “82? You don’t look 62.”

Mr McCabe said he disagreed with Garda O’Callaghan’s evidence.

In summing up, Judge Durcan said: “I have heard two versions of this matter. I hold Garda O’Callaghan in the height of regard as a member of the gardaí who sees things directly and fairly.

“I have also heard Mr McCabe’s story and you have a very definite view on that and putting the two stories together it creates a little doubt in my mind and when there is a little doubt in mind, you, Mr McCabe have to get the benefit of it.”