Driving ban for All-Star hurler Cathal Barrett after garda found him intoxicated in stopped car

Cathal Barrett. Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

By Conor Kane

All-Star hurler and former young hurler of the year Cathal Barrett has been banned from driving for two years after being convicted of being intoxicated in charge of a car.

Mr Barrett (25) from Beakstown, Holycross, Co Tipperary, was also fined €200 at Thurles district court today after Judge Elizabeth McGrath found the facts proven against him in relation to the incident which happened when heavy snow during Storm Emma made driving conditions dangerous on the morning of March 3 last.

Cathal Barrett won an All-Ireland medal with Tipperary in 2016 when the county beat Kilkenny in the senior final, the year he also picked up an All-Star award.

He also has two Munster senior hurling medals and was named young hurler of the year in 2014.

He missed much of the 2017 campaign with Tipperary after being excluded from the squad by then-Tipperary manager Michael Ryan for unspecified disciplinary reasons.

He returned to the inter-county panel earlier this year.

The court heard today how a witness made a call to the garda station in Thurles before 7am on March 3 last after he saw two men "who looked like they were dead" in a car, which was on the road at O'Donovan Rossa Street.

Garda David Carey was in the patrol car which went to investigate the report and told the court that, on arrival at the scene, he saw a car "out on the road," with tyre tracks in the snow leading from a parking space to the rear of the vehicle.

There were two people in the vehicle and he knocked on the driver's side window and the person looked up and put on his seat belt and rolled down the window.

The keys were in the ignition. This person gave his name as Cathal Barrett from Holycross.

The defendant failed a breath test at the scene and was arrested at 7.10am and brought to Thurles garda station, where he provided a breath specimen which contained 65mcg of alcohol/100ml of breath.

He was charged with being intoxicated when in charge of a motor vehicle and made no reply to the charge.

The garda said that Cathal Barrett had told him he was sleeping in the car. It had snowed heavily the night before.

Under cross-examination from solicitor Patrick Kennedy, defending, Garda Carey accepted that driving conditions were "very difficult" at the time and that Mr Barrett appeared to be sleeping.

He also accepted that nobody could say when Mr Barrett intended to drive.

Garda Tom Finn, who was with Garda Carey at the time, said they found the car stopped "in the middle of the road" on a one-way street, parallel to a parked car.

Judge McGrath said that a Supreme Court ruling had found that it was up to the accused in such circumstances to show that they had no intention of driving, when found intoxicated in charge of a vehicle.

Mr Barrett's solicitor said they would not be offering any evidence.

The judge said that, based on the fact that Cathal Barrett was in the driver's seat, the car was out on the road and parallel to a parked car, the keys were in the ignition, and Mr Barrett put on his seat belt when he saw the gardaí, along with the fact that the defence did not rebut with evidence the garda's presumption that he intended to drive, she found the facts proven.

She imposed a mandatory disqualification from driving for two years and a fine of €200, fixing recognaisances in the event of an appeal at the defendant's own bond of €250.

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