A RETIRED architect who mistook his car’s accelerator for the brake, ended up crashing into a Kinsale bar and forcing an Australian tourist to jump onto the bonnet to avoid serious injury.
The dramatic events were outlined at Bandon District Court last week where Joe Shannon of Palace Wharf, Scilly in Kinsale pleaded guilty to dangerous driving as well as drink driving.
Gda Cormac Dineen told the court that at 6.05pm on September 1st last, gardaí were made aware of a road traffic collision at The Spaniard Bar in Scilly, Kinsale.
When they arrived on the scene they saw that a Mercedes Benz car had collided with the outer wall of the pub. There were a number of people there as well as an off-duty garda at the door of the car.
‘I approached the driver of the car who was still there and his wife was in the passenger’s seat, and I smelled alcohol from him and saw that he was very drunk and I arrested him on suspicion of drink driving,’ said Gda Dineen.
Gda Dineen said the defendant was then taken to Bandon Garda Station where a breath sample taken from him gave a reading of 75mcgs of alcohol per 100mls of breath.
Gda Dineen told the court that the defendant had been drinking in The Spaniard Bar prior to the accident and his car had been parked outside.
‘He went out to reverse it out of a car space and struck a rental car belonging to an Australian tourist,’ said the garda. The tourist had been standing outside the bar and saw the collision and as he was going over to alert him, Mr Shannon moved forward and struck a second car and then came onto the roadway and accelerated rapidly towards the bar, said Gda Dineen.
‘The Australian tourist was in his path and he had to take evasive action by jumping onto the bonnet of the car to avoid being crushed.’
The court heard then that the car then collided with some outdoor seating outside the bar. The Australian tourist received a bad laceration to his forearm which required 28 staples, carried out by emergency services who attended the scene.
Gda Dineen said another tourist from Dublin – who was seated inside the bar – had debris from the wall of the pub fall on top of her as she looked outside at what was happening.
‘She suffered bruising to her left leg and was treated at the scene, while Mr Shannon’s wife also had a slight injury and suffered a cut to her lip,’ said Gda Dineen.
Gda Dineen said the defendant, who has two previous convictions, including one for drink driving in 2011, was co-operative with gardaí.
Defence solicitor Virgil Horgan said his client, who is 73 years old, lives ‘just 100 yards from The Spaniard Bar.’
‘On the day in question he was in a car space and was asked to move which he shouldn’t have done, and he took a chance and moved it,’ said Mr Horgan.
‘Instead of hitting the brake, he hit the accelerator and that’s why the car went forward. He mistook one foot pedal for another, and he apologises for what happened.’
Mr Horgan said his client’s insurance company is dealing with compensating those who were injured during the incident.
‘He has been a hard worker all his life and it’s been a sore lesson for him and he realises it shouldn’t have occurred.’
Judge James McNulty convicted and fined the defendant €1,000 for dangerous driving and €500 for drink driving and also disqualified him from driving for three years on the two counts.