A car owned by an uninsured driver with the same name as a consultant engineer, who says he was defamed in a newspaper article about the prosecution of the uninsured driver, was registered with the same address as the engineer, the High Court has heard.
Sergeant Gary Gordon, who is in charge of the road policing unit in Kilkenny, told the court when he stopped a red Skoda driven by a Michael Reilly on June 30th, 2015, he checked the address he gave against the registration of the car and found it was registered to Michael Reilly of Ballycullen, Mullinahone, Co Tipperary.
Sgt Gordon was giving evidence in the case brought by engineer Michael Reilly (62) of Ballycullen, Mullinahone against Iconic Newspapers, publishers of the Kilkenny People, over a court report in the February 19th, 2016 edition.
Mr Reilly claims he was defamed by being called a criminal in the report which was about another Michael Reilly, who got a suspended jail sentence, a six-year driving ban and a fine for uninsured driving.
The paper denies defamation and says it was an entirely fair and accurate report of the court proceedings which have absolute legal privilege.
The court has already heard the Michael Reilly who was convicted in Kilkenny District Court in February 2016 was a Traveller who lived at this time at Ballynacloghy in a caravan some 2km from the engineer's house.
A detective garda has also told the court the Michael Reilly stopped driving the uninsured car was "evasive with addresses" and could give Ballynacloghy and Ballycullen as his address when stopped.
Sgt Gordon told Rossa Fanning SC, for Iconic, he stopped the Skoda, which he had noticed was not displaying tax, and the Michael Reilly who was driving it gave his address as Ballycullen, Mullinahone.
When he carried out checks at the scene to verify this, he found the Skoda was registered to Michael Reilly, of Ballycullen, Mullinahone. The sergeant, who said the car did not have an insurance cert and the driver did not have his driving licence, wrote down the name, address and date of birth given.
He was satisfied this was Michael Reilly of Ballycullen, Mullinahone and the car was seized.
The driver also told the sergeant he had only recently moved to Mullinahone and was living in a caravan.
A prosecution followed in the District Court on February 15th, 2019 and the Michael Reilly the garda stopped on that day was convicted.
Paddy McCarthy SC, for the engineer Michael Reilly, put it to the sergeant that Michael Reilly, the Traveller, did not reside in Ballycullen. Sgt Gordon replied he checked the address and it was Ballycullen. He was satisfied as to the identity of the driver and two other passengers who were in the car.
Counsel put it to him that it was a false address, to which Sgt Cody said he had no reason to believe it was a false address.
Asked by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds about the earlier evidence from the detective garda that the Michael Reilly who was driving the car was known to be evasive about addresses, Sgt Gordon said he had no reason to believe he gave an incorrect address.
Mary Cody, the journalist who wrote the article, told the court she took a note of the evidence given in court and double-checked the information before writing her story. She said in minor road traffic cases, the age of a defendant is not usually included.
Put to her by Frank Callanan SC, for the engineer, that it was not usual for the addresses of defendants to be read out in court, she said it was not in more serious cases, but always read out in road traffic matters.
She disagreed it was an incorrect address, saying the address was correct.
Brian Keyes, editorial director of Iconic and editor of the Kilkenny People at the time, told the court he thought he made a very fair and prompt offer of a clarification in the next edition of the paper to say it was a different Michael Reilly.
All reasonable offers of clarification were refused and within days there was a threat of High Court proceedings, he said.
The case continues.