A TRAFFIC warden who reported ‘a near miss’ to her local authority employer, also ended up giving evidence at Bantry District Court against a motorist she claimed was ‘aggressive.’
Tina Walsh, who works as a traffic warden at Our Lady of Mercy National School at Townlots in Bantry, reported ‘aggressive behaviour’ and ‘a near miss’ to Cork County Council following an alleged incident at the school crossing on June 22nd 2015.
She claimed that a motorist, Ciaran Cullen of Rosebank, Lahadane, Bantry, approached her ‘at full speed’ as she was stepping onto the crossing at 9am that morning.
She said there were two cars stopped at the children’s crossing, but as she turned the accused’s car ‘came right up to my knees.’
She said the accused was on the wrong side of the road, having attempted to overtake one of the vehicles stopped at the crossing.
She said she approached the car and tapped on the window but the accused kept looking straight ahead.
‘I tapped again and asked him, “Do you realise what you did?”
The traffic warden said the accused told her: ‘I know. I saw you. Go. Move. Do your fucking job.’
She said she told him there was no need to use foul and abusive language in front of the children and he, allegedly, turned to her, looked at her aggressively, and said: ‘Fuck off.’
Ms Walsh gave evidence that the accused then turned ‘very aggressive’, told her to ‘fuck off’ one more time before taking off at speed.
In cross-examination, Flor Murphy, solicitor defending, put it to the traffic warden that his client was able to stop in good time; was travelling at normal speed; and that it was she who was shouting and roaring at him. She denied this saying: ‘No. He was aggressive to me.’
In his own defence, Ciaran Cullen, said he went to overtake a black jeep that was parked near the school crossing because ‘the road in front of me was clear.’ As he went to overtake, he said the traffic warden approached him and she started ‘screaming and shouting at him.’
He said: ‘She was roaring at me for overtaking the vehicle, but there was nothing before or after me.’
The accused also made the point that his grandchild was in the car and there was ‘no way’ he would do anything to endanger his grandchild, or other children in the vicinity.
He blamed the traffic warden for the confrontation saying: ‘It was her fault ... I thought she was aggressive.’
Mr Murphy submitted that there was no evidence of his client having engaged in careless driving – given that he was readily able to stop; there was no traffic coming in either direction; and that he was attempting to overtake a stationary vehicle.
In respect of the Section 6 Public Order charge, Mr Murphy said his client admitted using expletives but said: ‘the two of them were going full-on.’
He appealed to Judge Mary Dorgan not to criminalise his client. It was only after the judge indicated that she believed the traffic warden’s evidence to be ‘credible’ that he made a different kind of appeal.
The solicitor said his client works as a health care assistant and that a Section 6 offence would have a very serious impact on his livelihood in terms of garda vetting.
The judge said she believed the accused ‘behaved appallingly when he was confronted and used language that was extraordinarily inappropriate.’ However, she said: ‘I would hate to see him lose his job because of this incident.’
Insp Brian Murphy stepped into the breach saying the State would ‘strike out’ the Section 6 charge after it was agreed that the accused would pay €250 to the court poor box.
The judge thanked the State and acknowledged that it was ‘very generous of Tina Walsh to accept an apology from the defendant at this late stage.’
In terms of the careless driving charge, Judge Dorgan convicted Ciaran Cullen and fined him €250 for the offence.
Mr Murphy asked for recognisances to be fixed for appeal.