A Garda and high-profile GAA star was yesterday cleared of drink driving after a judge ruled a colleague who arrested him had failed to issue a correct caution.
Emlyn Mulligan (23) of Kinlough, Leitrim who plays for his county team was found ‘not guilty’ at Sligo District Court yesterday.
The court heard that Gardai in Sligo were called to the Lake Isle Road area of the town in the early hours of January 17 last year after reports of a disturbance. Gda David McHugh and several other gardai gave evidence that they found Gda Mulligan’s own car parked on the right-hand lane of the road, with another car parked across the front of it.
Garda Mulligan, who was off-duty, was outside his VW Golf with two other passengers and there were two other men at the scene who owned the second car.
No details of how the incident happened were given to the court but neither the passengers in Gda Mulligan’s car or the other two men would give statements to gardai.
Three gardai gave evidence that one of Gda Mulligan’s passengers had claimed that he had been driving the Golf. However Gda McHugh told Judge Denis McLoughlin that he later smelled alcohol on Gda Mulligan’s breath and believed that he had been drinking and driving. He said when he challenged Mulligan, the GAA player at first denied he had been driving but then admitted: “I won’t be a d***. I was drinking all day and I was driving now.”
Gda McHugh said he then cautioned Mulligan before arresting him and taking him to Sligo Garda Station where a breath test found him to be more than twice the legal drink drive limit. However at yesterday’s hearing, solicitor for Gda Mulligan Gerard McGovern, argued: “There is no proof before the court that my client was driving this vehicle.” But he also said that his client had not been given a caution until almost 25 minutes after gardai had arrived at the scene and that no reasonable explanation had been given for this.
State Solicitor Hugh Sheridan argued that the proper caution was given once Gda McHugh had detected the crime of drink-driving. However Judge McLoughlin in his ruling said the use of ‘Judge’s Rules’ – where a suspect should be cautioned at the earliest opportunity – on giving a caution can be waived if a Garda can give a reasonable reason for the delay on issuing his caution.
“In his evidence Gda McHugh said he ‘did not deem it necessary to caution the defendant’ and that he had indicated he had been with him for 25 minutes,” said the judge.
In those circumstances he had to dismiss the case. Gda Mulligan could be seen making a deep sigh when the verdict was given.
He was ordered to pay €100 to St Vincent de Paul on a charge of failing to have road tax on his 2004 VW Golf.