Updated: May 12
· Guard was on holidays.
· Guard was on Maternity Leave
· Guard was sick and the State couldn’t tell when they would return.
· Guard didn’t know the case was listed for hearing (and didn’t turn up).
· An important State witness was missing for trial (and didn’t turn up)
· The State couldn’t prove an essential element of the case e.g., time of driving.
· The Judge had a doubt about the evidence.
· An important piece of documentary evidence went missing.
· An important piece of documentary evidence was used incorrectly.
· The Garda lost his notebook.
· The defendant was charged with the incorrect charge.
· The defendant was charged with an offence unknown under law (typographical error on summons).
· The guidelines for use of breathalyser at roadside or in station were not followed.
· Legal guidelines not followed.
· Garda never gave evidence of the blood-alcohol content certificates when he handed them to the Judge i.e. he never explained -in evidence- what these documents were.
· Guard arrested defendant on private property and never gave evidence of the power authorising him to do so.
These are some of the many reasons why drink driving cases can be dismissed in court.
All these things have happened in cases of mine.
In each of the cases mentioned above the prosecution was ultimately dismissed.
In about half the cases the dismissal of the prosecution case had nothing to do with a legal issue or an evidential issue.
It had to do with something else, something unconnected to the trial of the case itself.
Contrary to popular opinion, in life,
accidents and chance are common.
Unusual outcomes are the rule.
This is the reality of court.
Its also a reality of life.
Cases are listed for trial often months in advance.
Between that day and the day of the trial unforeseen events do happen.
Documents can go missing and witnesses may not be in court for a number of reasons, frequently bureaucratic i.e. nobody bothered to write to them telling them they needed to be in court.
For instance, if a Guard books annual leave in January for two weeks in June, its completely unreasonable to expect them to cut short their leave because of a bureaucratic mistake in fixing a trial during that period.
Not only is it unreasonable, they’re just not going to do it.
And why should they?
The same applies to Gardai on maternity leave.
But on the date of trial the case may be struck out because it cannot be progressed.
As for the rest?
Well, these are mistakes.
Contrary to popular opinion, in life, accidents and chance are common.
Unusual outcomes are the rule.
Like the case where the Guard lost their notebook.
The Guard had misplaced their notebook and couldn’t find it.
This caused a problem. A big one.
Because they couldn’t remember specific details of the case (these were recorded in their notebook) they couldn’t make their statement.
That meant they couldn’t comply with the court order to deliver Garda statements to the Defence.
Again, this is a highly unusual event.
But these things happen.
Because that is life.
But because of this unusual event the case was ultimately dismissed.
None of these occurrences are “technicalities”.
These are accidents and chance.
They don’t happen in every case, but they do happen.
When they do, they can completely alter the outcome of a case.