A TAXI driver and a doctor told Judge Marie Keane at Clonakilty District Court last week how they helped a man from his car when they found it upturned on its roof on the main Kinsale to Cork road.
Taxi driver Rory Swanton told the court that he arrived at the scene of a single car accident to find a Mercedes on its roof, with the engine running.
He also noticed that the lights were on, and the car’s wheels were still turning. The time was 10.42pm on Friday night November 30th 2018, and the location was Pewtree Hall cross near Kinsale.
Mr Swanton said that he could see the driver of the car, Owen O’Brien, (of Ringcurrenlodge, Kinsale) still sitting in the driver’s seat, upside down with his seat belt still attached.
‘I couldn’t get him out through the driver’s door as it was jammed, so I asked him to release the safety belt, take the keys out of the ignition and then I helped him get out through the passenger door,’ Mr Swanton said.
Taking the stand after Mr Swanton, Dr Andrew Maxwell, who was the second person to arrive at the scene, told Judge Keane that he also assisted Mr O’Brien out of the car.
‘As a medical doctor, I offered my assistance and the driver of the car told me that he was not injured but he was unsteady on his feet, he speech was slurred and Mr Swanton and I had to help him stay upright,’ Dr Maxwell said.
‘I then made a call to the emergency services, who were on their way. I was at the scene for about 10 minutes but then left as it was clear that Mr O’Brien did not need medical assistance.’
Garda David Kelly of Kinsale Garda Station told the court that when he arrived he found Mr O’Brien to be very unsteady on his feet and that there was a strong smell of alcohol. Garda Kelly then arrested Owen O’Brien at the scene on suspicion of drink-driving.
Garda Kelly told the judge that, after cautioning, Mr O’Brien replied: ‘I was playing golf, and had a few drinks afterwards. I was driving home, it’s bad isn’t it? I’m fucked.’
Owen O’Brien was then taken to Bandon Garda Station where he failed to give a breath sample. However, Mr O’Brien did supply a urine sample which revealed levels of 360 micrograms of alcohol for 100 millilitres of urine.
Barrister Michael Dully for Mr O’Brien said that the charge of dangerous driving before his client could not be proved as there was no evidence to support the claim, as there were no witnesses to the moment of accident.
Mr Dully also disputed that the State could prove that the specimen of urine was taken, as required by law, within three hours of the accident.
In reply, Judge Marie Keane said that while there was no witness to the accident, she found it inconceivable that the accident could not have taken place moments before the taxi driver, Mr Swanton, arrived on the scene.
However, while she dismissed the dangerous driving charge, Judge Keane convicted Owen O’Brien of drink driving and fined him €500 with four months to pay and disqualified him from driving for three years.
Judge Keane also set a recognisance in the event of an appeal, in a bond of €200 cash.