Ian Bailey fined following drug-driving conviction in Cork court 

Ian Bailey fined following drug-driving conviction in Cork court 

Ian Bailey arriving at the District Court in Bantry, West Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Ian Bailey has been convicted of drug-driving and other offences all relating to being initially stopped at a Garda checkpoint near Schull on August 25, 2019.

The 64-year-old with an address at the prairie, Liscaha, Schull, had pleaded not guilty to four charges - possession of cannabis in his car, possession of cannabis at Bantry Garda Station, driving while cannabis was in his system, and allowing his car to be used for possession of cannabis - at Skull, Schull. Judge John King had heard garda evidence on November 12 last, as well as oral and legal submissions from Mr Bailey's legal team challenging various aspects of garda actions and procedures.

Last November, Sgt Kevin Heffernan told the judge that at the checkpoint in August 2019 he first noted Mr Bailey was not wearing his seatbelt. During a conversation with him he then got a strong smell of intoxicating liquor.

Mr Bailey said he had had a pint earlier with a meal and was tired.

He failed a roadside breath test but later passed a test with the evidenzer at the garda station. However, while at the station during a search a small tin with suspected cannabis was found on him.

Sgt Heffernan told the court that in a cautioned interview Mr Bailey said: "Someone left it at the market stall.

"They said 'it's for you' and they left it."

He told Garda Heffernan it was "green stuff" and as to whether he knew what it was he said "not exactly but it looks like cannabis".

"I assume it is cannabis and I was in possession of it," he said.

Mr Bailey said he didn't know the name of the person who left it with him and when asked by Sgt Heffernan whether more would be found in his car he replied: "No, you shouldn't."

Mr Bailey was dropped home and Sgt Heffernan retained his car keys. He went back to Skull, took the car to Schull Garda Station where it remained overnight, before searching it at 8am the next day.

He found three cannabis joints in the car and Mr Bailey was informed when he came to collect his car shortly after noon.

Submissions made in court 

Mr Bailey's barrister, Emmet Boyle, had made a number of submissions to the judge regarding the actions of gardaí, including why the arresting garda retained Mr Bailey's car keys after his release on the night of his arrest, then took the car and parked it at the garda station overnight before searching it the following morning.

 Ian Bailey and his solicitor Ray Hennessy at the District Court in Bantry, West Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Ian Bailey and his solicitor Ray Hennessy at the District Court in Bantry, West Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Written submissions followed and at Bantry District Court today Judge King dismissed one charge - that of possession of cannabis in his car - but said there was a case to answer regarding the others.

In response to the various submissions, Judge King said that while the description of the drugs in the summons were not identical to that in the legislation, with words used instead of symbols regarding the drugs, he said it did not prejudice the defendant.

As to the submission that two offences were contained in the one summons, the judge said district court rules did not prohibit this and in fact allowed for it, but as a comfort he said in the event of a conviction it would be one conviction, and one penalty.

As to a submission arguing that the garda forming an opinion that drugs had been consumed, the judge said that the legislation did not specify when the garda has to form that opinion. He said the presence of controlled drugs on Mr Bailey was sufficient grounds to form that opinion.

As to a submission that Mr Bailey had not been informed by gardaí as to the reason for his being searched at the garda station, the judge said he had been provided with a C72S form and this was explained to the accused. 

He added that gardaí were not expected to have "an encyclopaedic knowledge" of the laws.

The judge also noted that in evidence the court had heard that it was the garda's common practice for the safety of all to search people in such circumstances and that the relevant box in the custody records had been ticked.

Charge dismissed

Judge King did dismiss the charge of possession of cannabis in Mr Bailey's car, stating that gardaí had not observed the statutory requirements and so the car had been illegally detained and any evidence arising out of the search should be excluded.

However, he permitted the section 19 charge, that of allowing his car to be used for possession or transportation of cannabis, based on the drugs found on Mr Bailey's person during the search of him at the garda station.

Ruling that with one charge dismissed but the balance remained, the judge asked whether defence evidence was going to be put forward. Mr Boyle said none would be provided and on that basis Judge King moved to convict.

Mr Bailey, who the court heard had four convictions that were historical in nature and now spent, had been entirely cooperative and had voluntarily made admissions to gardaí.

Mr Boyle said his client lived rurally, was in his sixties, and that the disqualification from driving for one year would "weigh heavily on him".

He said Mr Bailey's earnings were "of a lower order" and that he was on social welfare. 

He told the court: "He is living with somebody at their home, I will just leave it at that."

Convicted and fined

Judge King convicted Mr Bailey of drug-driving and fined him €400, with six months to pay. On possession of cannabis he convicted him and fined him €300, with six months to pay, and took the remaining Section 19 charge into consideration.

Recognisance for an appeal was set at Mr Bailey's own bond of €200, no cash required.

Asked outside court as to his thoughts on the verdict, Mr Bailey said: "I don't have any."

This story first appeared on Irishexaminer.com

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