DPP v Petrovici

 
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[2018] IEHC 734

THE HIGH COURT

Noonan J.

[2018 No. 708 S.S.]

IN THE MATTER OF SECTION 52 OF THE COURT'S (SUPPLEMETAL PROVISIONS) ACT, 1961

BETWEEN
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS (AT THE SUIT OF GARDA MICHELLE POWER)
PROSECUTOR
AND
FRANCISC PETROVICI
DEFENDANT

Crime & sentencing – Case stated – Road traffic offences – Spent offences – S 56 Road Traffic Act 2010 - Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016

Facts: The defendant had pled guilty to an offence of driving without insurance. He had earlier convictions where appeared to be spent under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016. The sentencing Judge was invited to invoke s 56 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 which allowed a judge to decline to make a disqualification order. The Judge proceeded to state 2 questions for the Court to answer.

Held by Noonan J., that the interests of justice and s 7 of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 permitted the admission of the defendant’s earlier convictions into evidence. The charge to which the defendant had pled guilty could not be referred to as a “first offence.”

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Noonan delivered on the 27th day of November, 2018
1

This matter arises by way of consultative case stated by Judge Haughton, judge of the District Court sitting in Wexford.

2

The defendant came before the court on the 20th December, 2016 charged with driving without insurance contrary to s. 56 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 as amended. He pleaded guilty to that offence. On inquiry by the judge, the prosecuting Garda indicated that the defendant had previous convictions but these appear to be spent under the terms of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act, 2016 (‘the 2016 Act’). In the normal way, a conviction for driving without insurance carries a consequential disqualification unless the provisions of s. 65 (5) (b) of the Road Traffic Act, 2010 are applied which provides:

‘Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 52 tried summarily or under section 56, the court may, in the case of a first offence under the section concerned, where it is satisfied that a special reason (which it shall specify when making its order) has been proved by the convicted person to exist in his or her particular case to justify such a course—

(i) decline to make a consequential disqualification order, or

(ii) specify a period of disqualification in the consequential disqualification order of less than 1 year.’

3

Evidence was tendered on behalf of the defendant that he had a policy of motor insurance at the material time which he bona fide believed covered his driving but in fact did not. Consequently, the defendant's solicitor invited the judge to apply the provisions of the above subsection. It emerged that the defendant had two previous...

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