DPP v Sweeney
 IECA 5
THE COURT OF APPEAL
Finlay Geoghegan J.
185/2013 - Finlay Geoghegan Irvine Hogan - Court of Appeal - 15/12/2014 - 2014 17 4801 2014 IECA 5
ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1961 S27(1)(A)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE (THEFT & FRAUD OFFENCES) ACT 2001 S4
CRIMINAL JUSTICE (THEFT & FRAUD OFFENCES) ACT 2001 S18
CONROY v AG
ROAD TRAFFIC ACT S49
CONSTITUTION ART 38.2
ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1961 S26
ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1961 S27
CONSTITUTION ART 38.5
AG, PEOPLE v POYNING
Road Traffic Act 1961 – Ancillary Disqualification – Road Traffic Offence – Judicial Error – Law
In what circumstances may a court impose an ancillary disqualification order under s. 27(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act1961 ("the 1961 Act") following a conviction in respect of an offence other than a road traffic offence where the effect of such an order is to disqualify the holder of a driving licence from driving a motor vehicle for a specific period of time? This, in essence, is the principal issue presented on this appeal.
The matter arises in the following way. The appellant, Mr. Sweeney, pleaded guilty to two counts of offences contrary to s.4 and s.18 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act2001 ("the 2001 Act") respectively. The offences in question concerned the sale of a Ford Transit van using a false name to a Mr. Frank Butler for €4,200. The van in question was actually stolen from a laundry company in London. While this particular theft caused insurance difficulties for the owner of the vehicle (a Ms. Donna White), the van was ultimately returned to Ms. White and she was compensated through her own insurance company. The person who lost out as a result of this fraudulent act was the unfortunate Mr. Butler who had quite innocently paid out over €4,200 for a vehicle to which, as it ultimately transpired, he had no legitimate title.
In the Circuit Court Mr. Sweeney pleaded guilty to these two offences. The first offence was one of theft (contrary to s. 4 of the 2001 Act), namely, the act of depriving Mr. Butler of the sum of €4,200. The second offence was that of possession of stolen property, namely, the Ford Transit van (contrary to s. 18 of the 2001 Act). For these offences Mr. Sweeney ultimately received a suspended sentence of two years imprisonment in respect of both offences on condition that Mr. Butler was recompensed in full. It is not in dispute but that full restitution has subsequently been made to Mr. Butler by the appellant. No appeal has been taken by the appellant in respect of these suspended sentences.
In addition, however, to the suspended sentence the learned trial judge disqualified Mr. Sweeney from driving for a four year period pursuant to s. 27(1)(a) of the 1961 Act. Mr Sweeney has appealed against that part of the sentence. The principal issue which arises in this appeal is whether the trial judge erred in law or in principle in imposing a disqualification order in respect of these offences to which the appellant pleaded guilty. We should also mention that one further issue also arose, namely, whether the accused should have been given advance notice that the trial judge was contemplating imposing a disqualification order. It is not, in the event, necessary to consider this issue.
Section 27(1)(a) of the 1961 Act provides
"Where a person is convicted of an offence under this Act or otherwise in relation to a mechanically propelled vehicle or the driving of any such vehicle (other than the offence in relation to which s. 26 of this Act applies) or of a crime or...
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