A LOOPHOLE that allowed a disqualified driver to obtain a one-year licence from the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) was highlighted at a recent sitting of Clonakilty District Court.
Tim Buckley, No 11 Carechoice, Clogheen, Clonakilty, pleaded guilty to the charge of dangerous driving in September 2014 and was disqualified from driving for 20 years by Judge James McNulty.
The court was told that the defendant was given a special disqualification order when he appeared at a sitting of Bandon District Court on October 2nd 2015 and he agreed not to drive again.
However, Clonakilty court was told this week that within eight weeks of that disqualification order, the defendant had managed to apply for another one-year driving licence unknown to gardaí or the courts.
The charge of dangerous driving was then re-entered by Insp Fergal Foley at Clonakilty District Court to ensure the defendant would be
put off the road. Judge James McNulty asked how the 59-year-old defendant was able to get a second licence without disclosure.
Solicitor Patrick Goold said gardai were not notified of the licence and said his client is a manic depressive who ‘can be quite insightful when he is high’ and he presented himself at the NDLS with a doctor’s certificate to say he was fit to drive.
‘I’m intrigued at the ability of a State body to give a man a licence to drive, even though they were aware that he was disqualified,’ said Judge McNulty.
Mr Goold commented that even he was amazed too.
‘The disqualification order was right, but the problem is the certificate of fitness which he managed to do himself. There is a gap and this could be replicated nationwide,’ said Mr Goold.
Insp Fergal Foley said he would be communicating with the NDLS on this matter that they should notify the gardaí when issuing driving licences for someone who already was given a special disqualification order.
Outining the case, Insp Foley told the court that on the morning of September 21st 2014 gardaí on patrol in Clonakilty were alerted to reports of a car driving dangerously, at around 6am.
The driver of the car had failed to stop for gardaí in Cork city and drove on through Bishopstown, Innishannon, and Bandon, until the employment of a stinger by gardaí in Clonakilty finally stopped the defendant.
‘It was, in effect, a chase and there were a number of collisions along the N71 all the way down to Clonakilty,’ said Inspector Foley.
Mr Goold said his client suffers from disabilities and has been living in the West Cork area since 2014, and currently resides in a retirement village in Clonakilty.
‘He gave up driving once he was caught on the day in question, and his medical report is quite specific in that he suffers from the top scale of bi-polar disorder, as well as physical aliments as well,’ said Mr Goold.
Judge McNulty asked if the defendant would consent to a disqualification for life.
Mr Goold said the likelihood of his client driving again is slim.
‘He should know this time that there is no coming back and it’s in the public interest. However, ‘life’ sounds long so 20 years would give us certainty,’ said Judge McNulty.
Mr Goold said that one charge of dangerous driving would suffice and to take the other charges into consideration, but Judge McNulty said his intention was to convict the defendant of three dangerous driving charges.
Judge McNulty convicted and fined the defendant €100 for dangerous driving at Innishannon, €100 for dangerous driving at Gaggin and €100 at Gullane, Clonakilty, for dangerous driving, €100 for criminal damage to a roundabout at Ardarostig, Bishopstown, as well as €100 for failure to stop in Innishannon.