IAN Bailey has been convicted of drug driving and the possession of cannabis at a sitting of Bantry District Court.
Mr Bailey (64) with an address at The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, had pleaded not guilty to two charges of possession of cannabis, a charge of driving under the influence of cannabis, and a charge of allowing his car to be used for the possession of cannabis.
These charges arose when Ian Bailey was stopped during a routine Garda checkpoint outside Schull in August 2019. There, he failed a breath test and was taken to Bantry Garda Station where he was searched and cannabis was discovered.
His car was also searched by gardaí and more cannabis was found there.
The case first came before Judge John King in November 2020 where Sgt Kevin Heffernan told the court that there was a strong smell of drink when he spoke to Mr Bailey.
He then formed the opinion that he was driving under the influence of alcohol and breathalysed him at the scene.
Mr Bailey failed the breathalyser test and was arrested.
Ian Bailey was then taken to Bantry Garda Station, while his car was left at the roadside.
At Bantry Garda Station, Ian Bailey was searched by Garda Gary Coakley and a small tin, containing what turned out to be cannabis, was found. Sgt Heffernan said that he formed the opinion that Mr Bailey was driving under the influence of cannabis.
Ian Bailey was tested once more for alcohol and was found to be below the legal limit as per the ‘evidenzer’ test at the station. However, he was tested for cannabis and failed this test. Mr Bailey said that the metal tin had been left by someone at his market stall for him and when questioned as to what was in the tin, he told gardaí that he assumed it was cannabis.
He was asked if the gardaí, under the Misuse of Drugs Act, searched his car would they find more, to which Mr Bailey told Sgt Heffernan that,‘no they should not find any more’.
However, on searching the car, Sgt Heffernan discovered two tin boxes, one containing two rolled joints and the other with three cigars and one rolled joint.
Mr Bailey went to Schull Garda Station to retrieve his car where he was cautioned. There, he told Sgt Heffernan that the cannabis was for his own personal use and declined to name the person who had given him the drugs.
Barrister Emmet Boyle, acting for Ian Bailey, said that the search conducted at Bantry Garda Station was not carried out under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act and was therefore unlawful.
Last November, Judge King ordered written submissions in connection with the search on Ian Bailey carried out at Bantry Garda Station, and how gardaí formed the opinion that Mr Bailey had been driving under the influence of drugs.
The judge also ordered written submissions concerning the record of Ian Bailey’s interview after his release, and the search of his car the following day in Schull.
Having received these submissions from both the prosecution and the defence, Judge King last week dismissed the charge of possession of cannabis in Ian Bailey’s car, but said there was a case to answer regarding the other charges.
Judge King also said, regarding the defence submission that the description of the drugs in the summons was not identical to that in the legislation, with some words used instead of symbols describing the drugs, it did not prejudice the defendant.
Also, with regard to the submission claiming that two offences were contained in the one summons, Judge King said that district court rules did not prohibit this.
However, in the event of a conviction, it would therefore be one conviction, and one penalty.
Another defence submission outlined concerns with the garda forming an opinion that drugs had been consumed.
Dismissing this Judge King said that the presence of controlled drugs on Mr Bailey was sufficient grounds to form that opinion.
In another submission, barrister Emmet Boyle claimed gardaí did not give a reason why Mr Bailey was searched at the garda station in Bantry.
However, Judge King said that Ian Bailey had been provided with a C72S form which was explained to him, adding that gardaí were not expected to have ‘an encyclopedic knowledge’ of the laws and that it was common practice, for the safety of all, to search people in such circumstances and that the relevant box in the custody records had been ticked.
Judge King did, however, dismiss the charge of possession of cannabis in Mr Bailey’s car, stating that gardaí had not observed the statutory requirements and so the car had been illegally detained and any evidence arising out of the search should be excluded.
Judge King allowed the charge of allowing his car to be used for possession or transportation of cannabis, based on the drugs found on Ian Bailey’s person during his search at Bantry Garda Station.
Judge King found Mr Bailey guilty of drug driving, disqualifying him from driving for one year and fining him €400, with six months to pay.
Mr Bailey was also fined €300 for possession of cannabis, with six months to pay.
Emmet Boyle said that his client was on social welfare and that his earnings were ‘of a low order’ and the disqualification from driving for one year would ‘weigh heavily on him’ as he lives in a rural area.
‘He is living with somebody at their home, I will just leave it at that,’ Mr Boyle told the court.
Recognisance for an appeal was set at Mr Bailey’s own bond of €200, no cash required.
Ian Bailey made no comment on leaving the court.