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Small wonder there wasn't a serious accident, says Judge

August 22nd, 2018 10:03 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A WEST Cork woman appeared before Bandon District Court on multiple charges relating to careless driving, dangerous driving, and driving without insurance.

Sgt Paul Kelly told Judge Mary Dorgan that on July 13th 2016, the accused, Catherine Lydon O’Keeffe of Coronea, Baltimore Road, Skibbereen, was seen overtaking a car on a continuous white line, and that she followed up her careless driving by overtaking a second vehicle on another continuous white line, and attempting to overtake a third on a double white line. 

The accused, who was legally represented at Bandon District Court by Eamonn Fleming, solicitor, was fined €250 for the first careless driving offence in Skibbereen; €250 for the second careless driving offence in Leap; and €350 for the third offence in Union Hall, all of which occurred on July 13th 2016.

When questioned by the gardaí, the accused admitted driving and explained that she was ‘under pressure’ in her work as a social worker.

Mr Fleming outlined to the court that his client had ‘a very difficult life.’ In fact, he described her life as ‘chaotic’ and said she had, over the years, been given a number of protection orders by the court. He also made the point that because of the chaotic situation at home she did not know she had been disqualified.

Mr Fleming said his client had been the main carer for her mother, who has since died, and that she had health issues, including cancer, and is awaiting an operation at Cork University Hospital.

The second set of charges outlined by the prosecuting officer occurred at Clashnacrona East, Dunmanway, when, on February 17th 2017, the accused was caught driving without insurance – an offence for which she was fined €100 and disqualified for a period of 12-months.

The accused also pleaded guilty to a charge of giving a false name, which Mr Fleming said she did ‘in panic,’ and Judge Dorgan imposed a one-month sentence for the offence, but suspended it.

Catherine Lyndon O’Keeffe was also prosecuted for dangerous driving – in this instance a dangerous manoeuvre in overtaking an unmarked patrol car – and for that she was fined €100 and given a two-year disqualification. 

Because she was a disqualified person at the time of the offence, Judge Dorgan imposed a further penalty, a one-month suspended sentence.

The third set of charges related to the accused’s driving at Carrigfadda, Skibbereen on April 19th 2017. For driving without a driver’s licence, the accused was given a two-month suspended sentence and disqualified from driving for four years; and a €100 fine, plus a four-year disqualification, was imposed for driving without insurance. A third charge relating to April 19th 2017 – a charge of dangerous driving – was also recorded against the accused and Judge Dorgan fined her €100 and disqualified her from driving for five years.

The fourth set of charges included a charge of dangerous driving at Derryleigh, Skibbereen, on December 3rd 2017, which Judge Dorgan dealt with by way of a €300 fine and a four-year disqualification. For careless driving at Smorane, Skibbereen, on the same day, she was fined €50 and given a two-year disqualification.

On that occasion, a motorist reported her driving to gardaí saying she had crossed a continuous double white line causing the complainant to brake suddenly before overtaking two more vehicles in the face of oncoming traffic.

When the gardaí questioned her about her driving, she told them she was late, that her mother was weak, and she had to attend a nursing home.

In the court, the accused addressed the judge directly saying: ‘I had got a call to say my mother was dying, and she did die, four days later.’

Sgt Kelly said there are two outstanding charges against the accused: one, a charge of dangerous driving at Ballyduvane, Clonakilty, on June 13th 2018 has been put back to the October 16th sitting of Bandon District Court.

The final charge – a charge of falsifying a document to the Department of Education and Skills for an additional 40 hours payment to the value of €1,064.40 – was also adjourned to October 16th.

Confining her comments to the charges that were dealt with at the recent sitting, Judge Dorgan described the accused’s driving as ‘very reckless.’ She said she was aware of her difficult circumstances but said it was a small wonder that there hadn’t been a serious accident.

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