At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan dismissed 98 ‘Go Safe’ prosecutions against the motorists accused of speeding on two legal grounds.
In a fresh blow to the ‘Go Safe’ system, Judge Durcan dismissed the cases over the failure of the Go Safe personnel in court to provide evidence that they were authorised to give evidence on behalf of Inspector John McDonald, who heads up the Garda Fixed Charge Processing Unit.
Judge Durcan, who has been a staunch critic of the way the Go Safe prosecutions are brought to court, had adjourned months of Go Safe prosecutions into yesterday’s date due to a High Court challenge.
He also dismissed the 98 cases after ruling that the Go Safe employees couldn’t give any evidence as to whether the fixed-charge notice was paid or not.
Surveying the packed courtroom that included around 12 Go Safe staff, Judge Durcan said: “Insp. McDonald is out in force today with the artillery.”
The fleet of around 50 Go Safe vans is operated by an Isle of Man firm that last year put the profits it makes out of sight by changing its status to that of an unlimited company.
The Go Safe consortium secured the €80m Garda Siochana contract to operate the speed camera vans in 2009 and recorded operating profits of around €50,000 per week in 2012.
Earlier this year in court, Ivor Browne, director of the firm that operates Go Safe, Road Safety Operations Ireland, told Judge Durcan: “The reason we introduced the Isle of Man structure was to just limit access to our accounts from a competitors’ point of view.”
Judge Durcan dismissed the cases yesterday following a test case brought by Ennis solicitor, Daragh Hassett on behalf of one of his clients. Speaking after court yesterday, Mr Hassett said that the cases were dismissed “after I exploited flaws in the legislation enacted to outsource the prosecution of speeding offences”.
He said: “There is no argument that speeding on our roads is not welcome but our citizens are entitled to due process and fair procedures when they face a day in court. If the State in its wisdom is outsourcing important garda duties to a private off-shore company, then the same principles and duties that the gardai are bound by must apply. To date that has not been my experience of this set up.”
Mr Hassett said that the Road Traffic Act 2010 facilitates the outsourcing of detecting motorists speeding to the Isle of Man firm.
He said that Go Safe “should not be asked to even attempt to replicate the expertise that experienced gardai have brought to this role on a daily basis for many years”.