A bank employee who accidentally drove his car through the front of his local supermarket while intoxicated has been fined and disqualified from driving for three years.
CCTV was shown in court of John Fanning (48) attempting to park his black Jaguar before propelling it through the shopfront and into the supermarket, hitting a fruit and vegetable stand.
He told gardaí he had been attempting to park when his foot had slipped on the accelerator.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Fanning was a well-known customer at the shop and was welcome to return. “Presumably not in the way he arrived that day,” remarked Judge Martin Nolan.
Fanning, of Shenick Road, Skerries, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and drink-driving at C&T Supermarket, Skerries on September 17th, 2019. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Nolan said the CCTV footage revealed what occurred on the day, with Fanning arriving to go to the nearby chemist and hitting the accelerator instead of the brake. He noted no one was injured.
He took into account that Fanning had a strong work history and the plea was to his credit. He said it seemed to him Fanning did not deserve a custodial term.
Judge Nolan imposed a €2,000 fine and disqualified Fanning from driving for three years.
He granted a request that the disqualification be deferred until February 1st to allow Fanning to make provisions for his elderly mother, on condition that he undertake not to drink during this time.
Garda Shaun McElroy told Siobhán Ní Chúlacháin BL, prosecuting, that a member of the Dublin Fire Brigade had been in the shop on the morning and was an eyewitness to the events.
He said the man heard a crash and saw the car come fully into the shop. He went to help a woman before asking the driver if he was okay. He told gardaí he got a strong smell of alcohol from the driver, who told him his foot had got stuck on the accelerator of the car.
Smelled of alcohol
Gda McElroy said that when he arrived, Fanning told him his foot had slipped on the accelerator causing him to cross the footpath and go into the shop. He also smelled alcohol and noted Fanning’s eyes were bloodshot. Fanning admitted he had been drinking but said it had not been much.
Fanning was breathalysed and found to have a concentration of 72mg per 100ml of breath. The legal drink-driving limit is 22mg/100ml breath, meaning he was three times the legal limit.
The owner of the shop told gardai he had to close the shop for the day and consult a structural engineer. Gda McElroy said the cost of repairs was around €30,000 in total.
Gda McElroy agreed with defence counsel that the shop owner was fully compensated by insurance.
Counsel for Fanning said his client had been sick in the run-up to these events and had taken brandy to settle his stomach. He said this was not working, and Fanning was on his way to the chemist for some over-the-counter medication when the accident occurred.
Counsel submitted a “confluence of issues” in his client’s life at this time had caused Fanning a lot of stress and had led to a “perfect storm”, culminating in this event.