‘Nothing as appalling as a liar’: Driver committed perjury – judge

A judge at Ennis District Court declared “there is nothing as appalling as a liar” when he ruled that a speeding motorist had perjured himself in the witness box.

Judge Patrick Durcan said trainee accountant Joe Sutton (23), of Gurrane, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo had come into court and told “a pack of lies and perjured himself” when giving sworn evidence that he did not receive in the post a Garda fixed charge penalty notice for speeding.

Mr Sutton was detected at a speed of 133km/h in a 120 km/h zone on a motorway at Crusheen on April 22nd last.

After Judge Durcan refused to accept Mr Sutton’s claim that he never received the fixed charge notice, he convicted him, fined him €750 and banned him from driving for one year by way of ancillary order.

Mr Sutton will also receive five penalty points on his driving licence as a result of the conviction.

‘Further offence’

Judge Durcan requested Insp Tom Kennedy to refer Mr Sutton’s evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) “because it is very obvious to me that a further offence has been committed in this court today”.

“The sooner the State takes on board people coming into this court suited and booted and looking the part – and yet like a nut, they are split and cracked wide open when pressure is applied.

“I am appalled that someone who is an educated person, who has every opportunity in life and is on the road to becoming an accountant, came in here and told a pack of lies and perjured himself.”

The judge declared: “There is nothing as appalling as a liar – somebody who comes in here and perjures himself and tries to get out of an offence of this nature.”

Asking Insp Kennedy and the investigating garda in the case, Sgt Daragh Molloy, to make a detailed note for the DPP, Judge Durcan said: “It is extremely important that when something like this happens that the State is seen to be on their toes.”

Insp Kennedy replied: “We will refer the matter.”

Mr Sutton was one of two motorists Judge Durcan banned from driving for one year after not accepting evidence they did not receive the fixed charge penalty notice in the post.

He also banned mechanical engineer David Hehir of Cloonanaha, Gort, Co Galway for one year and fined him €750.

‘Stinking of perjury’

Judge Durcan last month said his courtroom was “stinking of perjury” after 15 motorists suspected of speeding walked out without any sanction.

The judge dismissed the speeding cases against them after they said that they did not receive the notices in the post.

In evidence yesterday, Mr Sutton said he did not receive the notice in the post. However, Sgt Molloy said a separate Garda notice was sent to Mr Sutton in relation to having no tax on the same date, and that was paid by him.

Sgt Molloy said: “I issued two tickets – one for speeding and one for tax. The tax incurs no penalty points, the speeding does. The tax was paid, the speeding wasn’t.”

Mr Sutton said he did not receive a notice for tax either.

Judge Durcan intervened to remind him he was under oath, and that not telling the truth would be committing perjury. He said: “Do you want to reconsider the replies you have already given.”

Mr Sutton said: “I was mistaken about the tax. I remember paying the tax.”

Maura Hurley Solicitors is a solicitor based in Dublin that specialises in speeding charges. 

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