The law is an ass

A Limavady priest has escaped a driving ban after being found to be 4 times over the legal limit.

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  • Nunoftheabove

    Jahweh wills it, clearly. I wonder can be plea bargain the ten points down to three Hail Marys or play the firm purpose of amendment card to negotiate the £300 down to a more manageable number; perhaps’ they’ll accept a handful of ten bob tickets for the parish 200 Club monthly draw (first prize a weekend in Lough Derg, second prize a fortnight in Lough Derg) instead. One does hope that the local parishoners will dig that little bit deeper this Sunday to help the hard done-by padre out. It’d be a sin to leave him out of pocket after his ordeal at the hands of the nasty non-canonical court.

    Quare stuff altogether, this christianity.

  • Cynic2

    My how even the Standards of the priesthood have fallen. In my young day a priest would just be starting to have a good time at 4 times over the limit

  • thethoughtfulone

    As a legal friend of mine once told me, the problem is that people get confused between law and justive.

    There is a legal system, there is no justice system. The legal system delivers the law but expect it to always deliver justice and you’ll frequently be disappointed.

  • galloglaigh

    This’ll be a good thread. I wonder how long it will take, before the GAA and the Catholic church are being attacked?

  • iluvni

    Does this disgraceful drunk still have his day job?

  • HeinzGuderian

    I fail to see the humour in any of this ?
    All I would ask is why didn’t he lose his license ?

  • pippakin

    No doubt the good priest has spent some time in the confessional and the good bishops are sending him off to a monastery to be cured…

  • oracle

    Ghastly lack of testicular fortitude on the bench,

    Anyone want to wager £20 that this magistrate will in the very near future ban someone (ordinary mug citizen) for using a phone because they had clocked over 12pts

  • Someone was on talkback at lunchtime claimed to have had the same magistrate and guess what? He wasn’t as over the limit but still lost his license and job

  • galloglaigh

    Moochin, he almost lost his house into the bargain. I doubt this case should be looked at again. Because this man is a Priest, should not give him any reason to be treated differently to Joe Soap or Mary Bubbles. It only sends out the wrong message to others.

    I’ve never had as much as a speeding ticket or parking ticket in all my years of driving, but that is no excuse for leniency should I be caught while driving – four times over the limit. Add damage to public property as he hit a roundabout.

    Wrong decision by the Judge in question.

  • al

    How does his defence call the incident unfortunate? He was fortunate he didn’t kill anyone.

  • Drumlins Rock

    What are the grounds for leniency in these cases? They would have to be very strong.

  • I think the more relevant question is why he was charged with ‘being in charge under the influence’ and not ‘driving under the influence’.

  • Don’t know about over there, but here, if you are over the limit and justing sitting in the car with the key in your possession you can be charged of being in charge of the car.
    Limit is still 80 whatsits here. When did northern Ireland drop it to 35? One pint would push you close.

  • mycousinvinny

    Has any contributor actually read the article? The man was convicted of a drunk-in-charge offence, not a drink-driving charge. The offence of drunk in charge carries a minimum 10 points, unlike drink driving which carries a mandatory ban. Assuming the man had no criminal record, a non-disqualification disposal is not so unusual, so perhaps the conspiracy theorists and judge-bashers might take the time to familiarise themselves with all the facts- not just the headlines.

  • Nunoftheabove


    As I understand it it’s 35mpg of alcohol per 100ml of breath or 80mpg per 100ml of blood. About 2 pints of regular strength stuff immediately before driving takes you to the legal cliff-edge I think.

  • between the bridges

    MCV.. which article? the link MP provides states..’His car hit a roundabout and came to a stop against the gates of the Donegal Prime Fish depot on Skeoge Road.’

  • keano10

    Well said MycousinVinny.

  • Toastedpuffin

    MCV, I think the implication is the fact he was a priest swayed the decision towards allowing him to keep his driving license. Given the potential seriousness of the case (he crashed rather than was stopped by police), and the high levels of alcohol in his breath I’d suggest this disposal is slightly unusual.

  • Nunoftheabove


    As I understand it, under the Road Traffic Act he could have been fined up to five large. Notwithstanding his apparently clean record and his admission, bearing in mind how far over the limit he was, the damage caused and the public safety hazard his being in charge of the vehicle in that state plainly represented, are you arguing against the proposition that the pie eyed padre has gotten off pretty lightly ?

  • Tweedybird

    MycousinVinny. If i picked the report up correctly on Talkback, I thought he had crashed the car as well.

  • mycousinvinny


    As I said earlier, it seems this man was convicted of drunk-in-charge as opposed to drink driving. There may have been no evidence or insufficient evidence of who was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. The evidence may simply be that he was at or near the vehicle at some stage after the accident.

    Given it was a drunk in charge offence, the mandatory punishment under the Road Traffic Offenders Order is 10 penalty points, albeit there is a discretion to disqualify instead.

    It seems that this was a middle aged man, perhaps before the court for the first time. this is leaving aside his contribution to the community as a priest. The fine is within the range for a person of limited means. Despite what some might say, priests are not cash-rich.

    I would caution contributors from glib comments on individual cases, the particular circumstances of which are simply not known. The evidence and the mitigating circumstances were put before the judge, who is in a better place to decide on sentence than any of us.

  • Toastedpuffin

    MCV, given that he pleaded guilty your hypotheses concerning lack of evidence seem inapplicable. It’s true we aren’t privvy to the case details, but questioning the sentence is valid on the facts reported.

  • Pete Baker

    As I understand it, the legal position is that a plea can be made for an exception to a ban if access to a car is essential for work purposes, for example.

    Given that a priest’s duties include administrating to the ill and elderly supernaturalists in their parishes I’d be surprised if such a plea hadn’t been made in this case.

    And with a previously clean record and guilty plea it’s not that surprising that an exception was granted.

    It’s a one-time exception excuse too.

    He’d need a different reason if it happened again.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’m pretty sure that a conviction for drink driving carries a mandatory ban – that is to say that a magistrate does not have the discretion NOT to ban someone convicted for drink driving.

    Which suggests that the priest must not have been convicted of drink driving, but rather the lesser, and less clearly-defined offence of being drunk while in charge of a vehicle.

    One possibility (quite common in rural areas) is that he was being driven by someone who did not have a license, or who, for whatever reason, was not entitled to drive the vehicle. In that instance, it’s the licensed person who is deemed to be “in charge” of the vehicle – who may be a passenger, and may be pie-eyed.

    Perhaps in this instance the priest had been picked up from the pub by a sixteen-year-old nephew or something like that.

    I can’t help but assume that the priest simply couldn’t have been the actual driver, since if he had been, the magistrate simply couldn’t have not banned him.

  • abucs

    It’s interesting reading the BBC article again that it never mentions who was driving the car. I would have thought this would be the first thing a journalist would report in the story. Even if the term “unnamed minor” was used.

    The way it is written, people would assume the priest was driving the car, but it actually doesn’t say that.


  • mycousinvinny

    Toastedpuffin- he pleaded guilty to ‘in charge’, not driving.

    Pete Baker- 10 points is the sutory punishment for in charge. The discretion of the magistrate is to disqualify. Its not the case that the discretion is not to disqualify (if that makes sense).

    BillyPilgrim- the magistrate was not dealing with a drink driving charge, so his powers in relation to same are not relevant. Your final paragraph is apposite- there was presumably insufficient prove of this man driving.

    People are making assumptions, based on very little information, that this man got special treatment. However, when one looks behing the headlines, inasmuch as we can, that may well not be the case.

  • mycousinvinny

    Pete- that shouldve read ‘statutory’!