Driver’s car seen ‘bouncing’ on road at Christmas, court hears

Man fined €600 and disqualifed for two years at Gorey District Court


A driver whose car was seen “bouncing” along a Co Wexford road on Christmas morning has been fined €600 and disqualified from driving for two years at Gorey District Court.

In another dangerous driving prosecution the case was dismissed as neither the man charged, or the occupant of the other car in the collision, could remember what had happened.

The cases were among more than 120 before Judge John Haughton in a packed Gorey courtroom, which sat well into yesterday evening.

The court was told Liam Staines (27), of Mount Leinster View, Crane, Ferns, had been driving through Monageer with his baby in the back seat, on December 25th, 2014, when he struck Zara Fenlon, who was driving a Volkswagen Bora.

She told the court she had stopped to turn right when Mr Staines’ oncoming Citroen Xantia struck her at high speed. Her car spun around and ended up facing a wall. She told the judge she continues to suffer from a back injury since the collision and damaged a tooth.

Patrick McDonald, from Cross Meadow, Monageer, said he was driving to 10am Mass when he noticed a black car driving at speed. He saw the car go straight into the red car, which had been on the correct side of the road. The black car “pirouetted” down the road, he said and ended up buried in a wall. He said the driver was sitting in the passenger seat and he heard a cry and saw a baby in the back. The baby was bruised but unhurt, the court heard.

Witness Niamh Bolger, of Pinsogue, Enniscorthy, described how she and her grandmother, on the way to Christmas Mass, saw Mr Staines’ car “bouncing off the road” as it passed.

“It gave us such a fright, the speed it was going,” Ms Bolger said.

Mr Staines, an unemployed plasterer, denied dangerous driving. He did not give evidence, but in a statement to gardaí, he admitted he had smoked cannabis on Christmas Eve. He said he was driving his son home to his mother’s house for Christmas. He also told gardaí he was over the speed limit by 10 or 15 km/h and did not recall the crash.

His solicitor, Lana Doherty, told the judge there was no evidence of road conditions on the morning, and the car was taxed, insured and NCT’d. She asked for a reduction to careless driving.

Judge Haughton said it was perfectly clear Mr Staines was travelling far too fast for a Christmas morning. “One wheel and the suspension unit came off his car. It is a clear case of dangerous driving,” he said.

He said the probable reason Mr Staines did not recall the crash was that he had been smoking cannabis the night before. The judge imposed disqualification for two years, a fine of €600 and €230 for witness expenses.

In a separate case, Tom Connors (23), of Hospital Hill, Bunclody, was charged with dangerous driving, on January 6th, 2015, and with driving unaccompanied on a provisional licence.

The court was told he collided head-on with a van at Knockmore, Caim, Enniscorthy. There were no witnesses and Mr Connors said he could not remember what happened. He said he had become lightheaded and woke up with an airbag in his face.

He was breathalysed at the scene, and his test was clear. The court heard the driver of the other car, who was injured, could not remember what happened either.

Inspector Pat Cody of Enniscorthy Garda station told the court the charges were brought on the basis of the scene of the crash and because there was a lengthy skid mark from the left rear wheel of Mr Connors’ car.

The judge dismissed the case and fined Mr Connors €150 for driving unaccompanied.