A motorist who became aggressive towards a Garda after he was stopped for undertaking and overtaking cars at speed on a dual carriageway, was convicted of dangerous driving and disqualified for two years.
John White (38), Circular Road, Gort, appeared before Galway District Court this week where he denied driving dangerously, in a manner including speed, at Bothar na dTreabh, Galway, on December 19, 2016.
He also denied he breached the peace, by engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour in a public place at Tuam Road, Galway, on the same date.
He further denied two more charges for refusing to give his driving licence and his date of birth to Garda Shane Lambe on the evening in question.
Garda Lambe told the hearing he was operating a speed check at 7.51pm on Bothar na dTreabh when he detected a white Audi A6 travelling at 111km/h in the 50km/h zone, undertaking and overtaking other vehicles as it approached him.
He pursued the vehicle on his motorbike and it pulled in at Supermac’s on the Tuam Road.
He said a man got out of the car, while a woman who had been in the passenger seat, ran into Supermac’s. Garda Lambe said he explained to the man he had stopped him for speeding and the man had flippantly replied: “So?”
He said the man kept walking away from him as he tried to speak to him. Garda Lambe said he asked the man for identification and he said he didn’t have any.
He said the man then quickly flashed a bank card in his face and he noticed the name on the card was John White.
Garda Lambe said he asked the man four times for his date of birth. He said the defendant went into Supermac’s and came back out a minute later.
Garda Lambe said that while he was recording White’s name in his notebook, White asked to see the speed gun.
He said White tried to grab the gun off him and he had to move it from one hand to the other. White then went to grab his arm. He then put the gun into the pannier on his motorbike.
The Garda said White asked him aggressively to show him the gun again but he refused to do so. He said White shouted at him a number of times and asked him if he was f**kin’ deaf under his helmet.
Garda Lambe told Judge Mary Fahy he decided to retreat from the scene as he began to fear for his own safety. He said that when he got onto his motorbike to leave, the defendant stood in front of the bike, took out his phone and started to record him, demanding to see the speed gun again.
Garda Lambe said he got off the bike, and for the purpose of the recording, he showed White the gun again. He said he then left the scene because he was fearful for his own personal safety.
In reply to Inspector Brendan Carroll, prosecuting, Garda Lambe said White had given him a flippant response when first shown the speed gun reading and in a condescending tone he had said, “So?” while continuing to walk away from him.
He said White told him his address was Gort and he would find him at that address. Garda Lambe said he had used the Audi’s registration to obtain White’s full address.
White gave evidence he worked in the security industry, installing CCTV and intruder alarms. He said he had been Christmas shopping in Galway that day with his fiancée who was heavily pregnant at the time.
He disagreed with Garda Lambe that he was speeding. He said he had been driving a white Audi A5 and Garda Lambe had mistaken his car for another car.
Insp. Carroll clarified that Garda Lambe had recorded the car was an Audi A5 in his written statement.
White told Judge Fahy his fiancée had a serious pain as they were driving home and she asked him to pull in to use the bathroom in Supermac’s on the Tuam Road.
He said he told Garda Lambe his fiancée was in pain and he would need to take her to the hospital, but the Garda was not very helpful.
He said he produced his driving licence to the Garda from his wallet and denied it had been a bank card.
He said he also gave Garda Lambe is name and address when asked.
He said he asked to see the speed gun because Garda Lambe had told him he had been doing 111km/h. He said he could not have been doing that speed because the cruise control was switched on.
He denied he had stood in front of Garda Lambe’s motorbike or that he had tried to grab his arm. “I was not threatening, abusive or insulting to him. I said no bad word to him,” White told Judge Fahy.
He said he brought his partner to the hospital after the incident that evening.
Judge Fahy said Garda Lambe was an experienced member of the Garda traffic corps and it was unusual for him to say he had to retreat for his own safety because of White’s aggression.
The judge said she did not accept White’s evidence that there had been a medical emergency as he had been driving away from the direction of the hospital and not towards it at the time he was stopped.
“He seems to think it’s okay to record a Garda in the course of his duty. That is quite wrong,” Judge Fahy said.
Insp. Carroll said White had 18 previous convictions, four of which were for road traffic offences and the other for public order offences.
Judge Fahy convicted White on all charges, noting a disqualification was mandatory on the dangerous driving charge.
She convicted and fined him €500 for that offence and disqualified him from driving for two years.
He fined him €100 for not producing his licence to Garda Lambe, €100 for refusing to give his date of birth and €100 for breaching the peace.
Leave to appeal the convictions was granted.