Motoring|

M50 Crash Garda had Six Pints

Garda CarIt’s been heard by Dublin District Court that a top Garda detective spent hours in a pub before crashing on the M50 in an unmarked Ford Mondeo. Detective Garda Kevin Keys, of Mountjoy station in Dublin, has admitted to losing control of his vehicle, which was involved in a February 6, 2010 accident. However, he has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving and taking the unmarked car without authorisation from his station.

Judge Conal Gibbons was told by Gareth Wooster, the other motorists in the collision, that he was driving his Hyundai Sante Fe 4×4 on the M50 at around 7:50pm on February 6 when the maroon Garda vehicle approached junction 11 to his left. The driver, Keys, tried to enter the exit, which was blocked off with traffic cones, and then he returned to the motorway. He saw brake lights and the car wobble from side to side before it did a u-turn.

Wooster went on to recall that he looked down the tyre of the Garda vehicle, and there was a collision between both cars. The Mondea had been travelling much faster than his. When the airbags in his Sante Fe activated, he got hurt but managed to escape the car, which was written off. Keys was bent over the lap of a passenger, but although he was conscious, he appeared dazed. He asked the detective and passenger if they were okay, but they didn’t acknowledge him – like he didn’t exist and wasn’t there. Wooster was given a breathalyser test at Tallaght hospital, which resulted in a zero reading. However, he noticed that the other two men didn’t go to the hospital.

Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance crew member Anthony O’Connor told the court that he took the detective and passenger, who he named as Detective Sergeant Peter Woods, to the same hospital. Keys had the smell of alcohol on his breath, and it was obvious from his manner that he had been drinking. Both officers declined treatment at the hospital and left after they just arrived.

The court also heard that retired Garda Brian Ford came across the crash. He was given partial entry to the rear of the Mondeo and noticed a strong alcohol smell particularly from the passenger. In his opinion, Keys looked to be in shock and was saying, “I am f***ed, I am f***ed”. He also agreed with Ronan Kennedy, the prosecuting counsel, that he told the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) that he smelled alcohol on Keys as he was put into the ambulance.

Detective Garda Michael Smith was off duty when the accident happened, but said there was a round system that night. Keys was drinking lager and may have had six pints, but agreed with Dara Robinson, the defence solicitor, that the detective may have had shandies, water and coffee. He also noted that the detective had a meal and that a drink spilled on him accidentally at the pub.

The court heard that Keys and Woods left the pub together around 7:30pm and didn’t log onto the car, which are only to be used for official Garda business, that he took from Mountjoy station. The defence said that, according to witnesses, Keys was delivering a witness order to someone in a forthcoming murder trial on the day of the crash.

Detective Sergeant Robert O’Reilly, his superior, wasn’t aware that Keys planned to do deliver the order that day. He and Superintendent Sean Walsh said that officers weren’t allowed to take a Garda vehicle if they had been drinking. O’Reilly also noted that he regarded Keys as a top detective in one of the country’s busiest units.

 

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