Jockey’s Race Week comes to bad end

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Galway Daily courts Jockey convicted of being drunk in charge during race week

A young jockey in Galway City for the Races back in 2019 has been fined for intending to drive while drunk that week.

Luke Dempsey (25), of Dromond, Carbury in Co. Kildare, was convicted of being drunk while in charge of a vehicle with the intent to drive at Galway District Court this week.

Judge Mary Fahy told the young jockey that it was only because he didn’t have any previous convictions that she wasn’t imposing some manner of custodial sentence.

Dempsey was convicted of an offence under Section 5(3)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 2010 after a contested hearing, for being in charge of a vehicle he intended to drive, though not actually driving at the time, with more than 67mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine in his system.

Garda Niall Walsh gave evidence that on Friday, August 4 of 2019, he was on foot patrol when he was called to reports of a possible drunk driver at the car park next to Jurys Inn in Galway City at 12:20am.

At the hotel car park, he spoke with the security guard who had reported a car trying to leave the car park, and who believed that the driver was drunk.

Inside he found the silver BMW reported, in a parking space with the engine off, but the lights on.

Garda Walsh said that he spoke with the person in the drivers’ seat, and asked him where the key to the car was. Dempsey took the key out of his jean pocket.

He said that Dempsey’s speech was slurred, and that he formed the opinion that the young man was drunk.

Garda Walsh arrested Dempsey, and while waiting for a patrol van to arrive so that he could be taken to the station.

He said that the young man became aggressive and agitated towards the Gardaí on the scene, and had to be handcuffed before being placed in the van.

At the station he gave a urine sample at 2:30am that morning, which returned a result of 273mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine, more than four times the legal limit.

Garda Walsh said that he viewed cctv footage which showed the car approach the barrier at the car park exit, where the driver struggled with the ticket machine for some time before being approached by the security guard.

After the gate was not opened for the car to leave, it returned to a parking space.

This cctv footage was played for the court, and showed him repeatedly fumbling with the ticket slot of the machine before being interrupted.

The Garda also noted that for this model of car, the key does not need to be in the ignition to start it, it just has to be nearby for the driver to press a button.

There was also a passenger in the car, who was asked to leave the scene after a brief exchange with Garda Walsh.

Ms Martina Moran, solicitor for the defence said that her client was fully cooperative when approached, and produced the car key and his licence when asked.

She put it to Garda Walsh that it was clear her client had no intention of going anywhere at that point, that he had already tried to leave, and was aware he couldn’t get out of the car park.

Ms Moran also raised the issue of the time it took for her client to be processed and informed of his rights when he arrived at the Garda Regional Headquarters in Murrough.

Garda Padraic Quirke gave evidence to the court that he was the member-in-charge of the custody area at the station that night.

Ms Moran asked him why it took over an hour for Mr Dempsey to be informed of his rights and be processed after arriving at the station.

Garda Quirke said that as it was Friday night on Race Week there was “a queue out the door” in the custody area, adding that he had 16 prisoners to process at the time.

Judge Fahy denied an application by the defence to dismiss the charge on the grounds that Gardaí had an obligation to inform Mr Dempsey of his rights without delay.

The judge said that the delay “mightn’t be ideal”, but that the evidence given was that there was a “huge amount” of prisoners to process.

Judge Fahy said that it was extremely serious that Dempsey has such a high alcohol reading while trying to leave a public car park.

The judge praised the Gardaí for the strength of evidence brought in this case, saying it was some of the strongest evidence she had seen in a case like this.

The Judge convicted Luke Dempsey of the offence and imposed a €600 fine, as well as €250 for the expenses of the medical bureau in processing the test, and disqualified him from driving for a period of three years.

Leave was granted to appeal, with recognisance fixed at Dempsey’s own surety of €300, half of which was to be lodged with the court.