Former Labour TD ‘shocked’ to be pepper sprayed by garda, court told
Michael McNamara convicted of dangerous driving
Michael McNamara: told the court: “I will never forget it as long as I live – in my own yard, pepper sprayed, handcuffed and thrown into the back of a car.”
Former Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara told a court that he was “utterly and completely shocked” when pepper sprayed by a Garda outside his home in December 2016.
In evidence at Ennis District Court, Mr McNamara (43) said that “my eyes were burning out of my head” after Garda Darren McLoughlin pepper sprayed him just after 2.10am on December 10th, 2016.
The court was told Garda McLoughlin had pursued Mr McNamara in his patrol car to his home at Tobernagath, Scarriff, east Clare, on suspicion, due to the manner of his driving, that Mr McNamara had consumed an intoxicant.
Mr McNamara passed a breath test for alcohol at Killaloe Garda station later that night when found to be substantially under the limit, but was on Tuesday banned for two years and fined €400 after Judge John King convicted him of dangerous driving on the night.
Judge King said that there was evidence that Mr McNamara was driving at excessive speed in a dark, narrow, undulating road and taking the centre of the road.
Judge King dismissed a second charge against Mr McNamara that he had obstructed a Garda in the course of his duties.
In evidence, Mr McNamara told the court he was temporarily “blinded” by the use of the pepper spray by Garda McLoughlin to his eyes, mouth and nose outside his home.
Mr McNamara told the court: “I will never forget it as long as I live – in my own yard, pepper sprayed, handcuffed and thrown into the back of a car.”
Mr McNamara denied evidence from Garda McLoughlin that he made three separate attempts to dash into his home on the night and that Garda McLoughlin applied the pepper spray on Mr McNamara’s third attempt when trying to restrain him.
Mr McNamara told the court that he believes that his arrest on the night was unlawful.
Counsel for Mr McNamara, Martin Dully said Garda McLoughlin’s actions towards Mr McNamara were “over the top and utterly unreasonable”.
In reply, Garda McLoughlin said: “I would say it was quite the opposite . . . I never encountered such a situation that night.”
Mr McNamara denied this course of events.
Mr McNamara said he had a couple of drinks earlier that night at McNamara’s pub in Scarriff.
Garda McLoughlin said Mr McNamara had earlier ignored his patrol car’s blue lights and sirens as he pursued Mr McNamara on a 1.8km stretch to Mr McNamara’s home. He said Mr McNamara was driving at 100km in an 80km zone.
He said he prevented Mr McNamara from gaining access to his home and he handcuffed Mr McNamara from the front. He said: “I did this as he had failed to stop driving, had failed to stop walking towards the door and for my own safety.”
Judge King fixed recognizance in the event of an appeal against the dangerous driving conviction.