Court Door at the Court Building in Gort

My Day in Court in Gort( Part 1 )

Why was I in Court?

If you have just landed on my blog, you may not know why I was in Court in Gort. Remember back in March 2021 I was dangerously overtaken by a cattle truck on the Gort To Loughrea Road. As it happened, I was testing out a GoPro, so the whole incident was recorded. You can read article 1 and article 2 about the actual event. At the time I wrote a detailed article but didn’t publish it, as I knew the case would get appealed and didn’t want to jinx anything. Read on to find out what happened in Court in Gort that day .

Dangerous Driving March ‘21

Back in March ‘21, I had a frightful experience when I was closely overtaken at speed by a person driving a cattle truck on the Gort to Loughrea Road. That day was also the very first day I was trying out a GoPro. Once I got home, I checked if the camera actually recorded, and it had. I then contacted Traffic Watch by phone to report dangerous Driving.

Email of Court Appearance

I received an email from the Garda that took my statement, to let me know that the case was going to court, and asked for my presence as a witness. I was to turn up at 10:30 AM at the Court Building in Gort and he would brief me then.

The Court Building in Gort

As I was waiting outside, I met another person, who was also waiting for Garda Donohue. We briefly exchanged stories, and he said he was there for assault. As our conversation progressed, I came to understand he was the assaulter. He just said, yeah, it happened.

When Garda Donohue arrived, turns out it wasn’t my Garda Donohue. I decided to go up the stairs, up to the Court Room

Court Room Drama

The Court Building dates back to as far as 1810, if only those walls could talk about Court Room Drama. I had never set foot in the Court Building in Gort, so I felt a bit of a voyeur. The Court was packed and Judge Mary Larkin was in full swing judging cases, some of them were postponed or struck off, some of the defendants didn’t turn up, other cases needed more info, and some had other (connected or not connected) ongoing cases. Slowly but surely the Court Room was emptying. I was told that they keep the more difficult cases to the end… my case was heard last.. 

The case with the Horse Whip

Before my case was heard, there was a case about an assault between two farmers in the Kilcolgan area. It felt slightly surreal, listening to two grown men, telling conflicting stories about what happened that day. The accused said the defendant threw stones at him , whilst the defendant said he received a blow to his face from a horsewhip, which of course the accused denied. On top of all that, there was also the escape of a cow. Hard to keep track of all the elements, and zone in on those elements that are actually relevant. Ultimately the judge didn’t find the accused a credible witness and convicted him of assault, you can read the story here.

Cyclist was dangerously overtaken by a cattle truck 

And then it was my turn, where Inspector Boland stated the case where a cyclist, myself, was dangerously overtaken by a cattle truck on the Gort to Loughrea Road. Video footage is available. Before the footage was shown, the defendant’s solicitor said upfront they did not contest the evidence, however the issue was that one didn’t  know who was driving the truck, more about that later.

Video footage of  Cyclist being dangerously overtaken

Video footage was then shown on the laptop of Garda Donohue. The footage was played a  few times to really see what happened. The video shows how the cattle truck overtook me at very close range, with oncoming traffic, and not moving even one inch onto the other part road section. The video also shows how other cars behind the truck do overtake me , giving me space by going on the other part of the road. The judge said, how come other cars were able to give her space and you did not?

To the witness stand

I was then called to the witness stand, first time ever in my life. I was then “sworn in” repeating the words of the court registrar. It reminded me of reciting my wedding vows 23 years ago.  I was to speak in the microphone and look at the judge. My voice initially quivered to then go into giving my story how I cycled from my house in Peterswell to Peterswell Cross and then took a left onto the Gort to Loughrea Road, into the direction of Castleday.  I said I was a qualified CycleRight instructor, and teach children and adults to safely cycle. I said It’s a windy, narrow road. At one of the bendier parts of the road, I was dangerously overtaken by a cattle truck, with oncoming traffic. It all went very fast, and before I knew it, the cattle truck had overtaken me. The feeling of a large vehicle overtaking you at very close range is very frightful, realising that if you don’t stay completely still, keep your bike under control, and clench your hands to the handlebars, you may not see the end of the day. I am a mother of two and wife, and I said that the driver endangered my life, and I would not want anyone to experience what I had, or even worse, lose their live. Drivers need to respect cyclists and keep their distance.

I was then asked what I did next, and I explained I am part of the Galway Cycling Campaign who told me to ring Traffic Watch to lodge my complaint and how Garda Donohue came to my house to collect the video evidence.

Cross- Examination

The defendant’s solicitor then did a cross-examination, asking me if I was sure it happened on Friday the 19th of March. I then asked if he doubted this happened. He then asked me how the date works on the GoPro, in the sense that I needed to set the date. I told him it was done automatically, and I did not have to set the date.

Defendant and Employer in the witness box

The defendant then testified, and when the judge asked him about driving the cattle truck that day, he said he did not remember if he was driving the cattle truck that day. When his employer was in the witness box, he said that 5 people (including himself) drive the truck, but he could not be sure who drove the truck. It was most definitely not him ( the owner), as he was in Kerry that day. Tacograms were shown when the defendant drove the truck on different days, but no evidence was produced that he did not drive the cattle truck that day. The judge then asked the owner how he pays his employees, and he said it is done based on their word, so there is no paper trail. When asked how the defendant gets paid, he said he does not get paid , as they have something in place where he does the owner a favour, and he gets to use the cattle truck as return favour. 

Garda in the witness box

Garda Donohue had spoken to the defendant by phone and asked him if he drove the cattle truck on the 19th, he said he could not remember. He then contacted his employer who did say it was the defendant that drove the truck. This is where it all gets a bit cloudy, as the employer then said  “ it might have been the defendant” . The employer was cautioned by the superintendent that he was under oath and that it is a serious offence to lie under oath.

The judge mentioned that the owner of the business was currently under investigation on how he runs his business, which was something the owner was not aware of.

Judge’s decision

Quoting the legal term “ suspension of disbelieve”, do not make me believe the incredible, she convicted the driver of dangerous driving and suspended his license for 4 years. She said if there was a murder on the 19th of March, and you were possibly a suspect, you would have an alibi. The defendant did not, at any given time, provide an alibi. She then set an appeal amount of 250 Euro.

1.5 meter of a distance when overtaking a cyclist

I am very glad that my case was fairly heard, and the driver was convicted of a traffic offence that could have lost my life. The driver appealed the conviction, just writing up the final Court Case. Come back soon:) 

Intermedium thoughts

I hope it will send a clear message to drivers on narrow roads in the country,  that when overtaking cyclists, IT is a recommendation to allow 1.5 meters of distance on an 80 km road. If that distance is not there and/or if there is oncoming traffic, a driver SHOULD NOT overtake. This recommendation was introduced thanks to the hard work of Phil Skelton of WexBug, who campaigned for this when he himself had a very similar experience to mine. It’s not a “law” as it ‘s extremely to define the distance, do you measure it from the side of the handle bars? Where the cyclists sits. In any case, there are signs that you’ll see on road, direct effect of Phil’s work.

Traffic Signs

South Galway has very few of the newly introduced traffic signs, and I have started to work with Galway County Council to get signs erected on the Ardrahan to Gort Stretch.  The road between Gort and Loughrea needs signs to remind drivers to slow down + those signs and also the old N18, the section between Ardrahan and Gort. As it happens I have been emailing my local Independent Councillor Geraldine Donohue ever since this incident happened and just two weeks ago I saw there are signs erected on the old N18 between Gort , Kiltartan, Labane and Ardrahan. I was delighted to see them.



Please contact your local councillor if you know of a road that needs those signs!

Share and Enjoy !

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