Ian Bailey gets 12-month road ban over drug driving

Former journalist (64) also fined€700 after conviction for three drug related offences

Former journalist Ian Bailey has been banned from driving for 12 months and fined a total of €700 after he was convicted of drug driving and possession of cannabis for his own use in West Cork almost two years ago.

Mr Bailey (64) of Schull had denied a total of four charges following a garda investigation after he was stopped while driving at Schull and later arrested and brought to Bantry Garda Station on the night of August 25th 2019.

Mr Bailey was charged with possession of cannabis, permitting the possession of cannabis in a car under his control, driving a car while having cannabis in his body, all at Schull and with possession of cannabis at Bantry Garda Station.

Mr Bailey's barrister, Emmet Boyle BL had made a number of submissions to Judge John King at Bantry District Court last November. Gardaí had responded with submissions and on Thursday Judge King ruled on the matters.

The judge found in favour of Mr Bailey on just one point - that his car had not been legally detained and therefore the discovery of three cannabis joints in the car was not admissible and he dismissed one of the possession charges.

The court had previously heard from Sgt Kevin Heffernan that he stopped Mr Bailey at a checkpoint in Schull and noticed he wasn't wearing a seatbelt and in the course of speaking to him, he noticed a smell of alcohol from him.

Mr Bailey said he had had a pint earlier with a meal and was tired and when he was tested at the roadside, he failed a breathalyser test so he was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and brought to Bantry Garda Station.

He undertook a further test for alcohol with an evidenzer at Bantry Garda Station which he passed but when he was searched he was found to have a small tin containing suspected cannabis.

Mr Bailey gave a blood sample and was tested for driving under the influence of cannabis and he failed the test, leading to a charge of driving a car while having cannabis in his body or drug driving.

Gardaí also seized Mr Bailey’s car and found three joints in the ashtray of the vehicle which led to one of the possession of cannabis charges only for Judge King to dismiss it on the basis that the car was not legally detained.

But Judge King convicted Mr Bailey of possession of cannabis in Bantry, driving with cannabis in his body and, on the basis he had cannabis on his person when stopped, permitting possession of cannabis in a car under his control.

Mr Boyle said his client was a man in his 60s who was "living with someone at their house" in a rural area who relied on his car so the mandatory driving ban would have serious implications for him.

Mr Boyle also said Mr Bailey was “not working and his means would be of a lower order” before confirming his client did not have any dependents and was in receipt of social welfare as he asked for time for his client to pay any fines.

Judge King fined Mr Bailey €400 and banned him from driving for 12 months on the drug driving charge. He fined him €300 over the possession of cannabis charge, taking into consideration the charge of permitting cannabis in the car.

Mr Bailey, who arrived unaccompanied to court and sat alone at the back of the courtroom during the 20 minute hearing, declined to comment after the case other than to say that he would be appealing the convictions.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times