A complicated case law is being consulted as to whether Kenmare gardaí were entitled to pursue an allegedly intoxicated Kerry farmer who drove a 40-year-old tractor into the driveway of another person's home in the middle of the night.
Gerry O'Shea (56) of Ankail, Tahilla, Sneem a small farmer with six cows, is summonsed before Kenmare District court accused of various offences in relation to the 1974 tractor he was driving in the early hours of November 26th, 2012.
The charges include driving without due care and attention, driving in an intoxicated state, and being on the road without a working rear light and without a rear number plate.
Gardaí on patrol became suspicious after they observed the tractor with broken rear lights which crossed the white line twice.
The garda put on flashing lights and pursued by the patrol car, O’Shea drove the tractor into another person’s driveway.
He fell out of the cab of the tractor onto the driveway and had a strong smell of alcohol, said gardaí.
Under cross examination, by Pádraig O’Connell solicitor, garda witness said they drove into the private property to ascertain his fitness to drive.
“Gardaí cannot enter a third party property for purposes of investigation – only for arrest,” solicitor Mr O’Connell told Kenmare Court.
He handled the case law from the Supreme Court ( DPPv Molloy 2004) in relation to the matter.
“Gardaí saw him with defective lights, they saw him falling off the tractor and they followed him into private property,” he said.
The gardaí could have have arrested him on the public road but didn’t do so, the solicitor added.
However Superintendent Flor Murphy said gardaí were entitled to enter a third party property to investigate and handed in High Court rulings on the matter.
Judge James O’Connor said O’Shea seemed to enter the property for the purposes of “evasion”.
“But if this is the law...” the judge said.
If allowed, all anybody had to do to evade pursuing gardaí was “go into the nearest drive way and off you go,” the judge mused.
He is to study the case law handed to him before making a decision.
The matter had been adjourned to November to allow the Judge to come to a decision.