herald

Saturday 25 March 2017

'Drunk' Dubs fan took a horse and cart on M1 after All-Ireland final

Christopher Gunning claimed in court he had only has three shandies and was tired at the time he was pulled over
Christopher Gunning claimed in court he had only has three shandies and was tired at the time he was pulled over

A Dublin GAA fan on his way home from the All-Ireland football final was caught drunk driving a horse and carriage on the M1.

Christopher Gunning (58) was stopped by gardai as he drove an antique Dutch carriage festooned with Dublin flags and pulled by a black and white piebald horse.

He was highly intoxicated and an officer who had to rein the animal in while he called for back-up in heavy traffic.

Gunning, who is a grandfather-of-four, denied he was drunk and said bringing the flag-draped carriage to the All-Ireland was a "tradition".

He told gardai he had six pints of Budweiser, but insisted in court it had only been three shandies.

Judge Michael Walsh found him guilty and fined him €300, describing his behaviour as "reckless in the extreme".

Control

Gunning, of Clonshaugh, Cloughran, pleaded not guilty to being under the influence of an intoxicant to such an extent that he was not capable of having proper control over an animal-drawn vehicle.

Dublin District Court heard the incident happened on the M1 in Santry on September 18, 2016.

Garda Colm Reid told the court he had finished duty and was driving his own motorcycle home at 7.55pm. Traffic was so heavy he was barely able to get his bike through.

"In front of me, holding all the traffic up was a horse and cart," he said.

It was dark and there were no lights on the cart, Gda Reid added.

He drove alongside and Gunning was at the front, with traffic beeping and swerving around him.

He felt the situation was "extremely dangerous".

The garda shouted at him to get off the road and Gunning looked at him and said nothing.

The garda managed to pull him in and knew by looking at him he had consumed alcohol "because of his demeanour sitting in the seat".

"He wasn't able to understand what I was saying, even though I was very close to him," the garda said. "He was barely able to speak a proper sentence. Nothing he could say to me made much sense."

Nervous

As he was calling for assistance, Gunning pulled back out into oncoming traffic, narrowly avoiding some "near misses".

Gda Reid said that cars were "flying past" and the garda was "extremely nervous for my safety".

The horse became agitated and he feared they would be clipped by a car. The garda had to hold the horse's reins while on the phone.

Gunning was very unsteady on his feet when he got off the carriage and the garda "knew he had consumed a hell of a lot of alcohol".

Gunning, who was involved in his local GAA club and had kept horses all his life, told the court he was not intoxicated but more "tired".

"God only knows what might have happened if something upset or disturbed the animal… I can only imagine the consequences," Judge Walsh said.

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