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Driver jailed after gardai stopped him twice at Covid-19 checkpoints

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Denis Constantin was jailed

Denis Constantin was jailed

Denis Constantin was jailed

A man who was the first person to be charged with offences under new emergency powers to enforce public compliance with Covid-19 travel restrictions has been jailed for six months.

Denis Constantin (24), of Shingaun, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, admitted two charges after he was stopped twice at checkpoints in Co Wexford by gardai over the Easter weekend - more than 2km from his home without a valid reason.

The two offences are contrary to Section 31A(6)(a) and (12) of the Health Act 1947 as amended by Section 10 of the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2020).

The charges read that he contravened a regulation made under Section 31A(1) of the Health Act 1947 as amended, to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of Covid-19.

Breach

Constantin was given two concurrent three-month jail sentences for each breach.

He also pleaded guilty to a number of driving without insurance - and driving while disqualified - charges.

He was given another three-month jail sentence for the driving offences and disqualified from driving for 28 years.

In total, he was jailed for six months for the combined offences.

Judge Brian O'Shea said the offences were at the top end of the scale considering that he was also driving without insurance.

Constantin was one of seven people arrested over the Bank Holiday weekend after gardai were given new powers of arrest under temporary regulations.

The 24-year-old was stopped at a checkpoint in Bunclody, Co Wexford, on Good Friday driving a car while disqualified and while being more than 2km from his home without a valid reason.

Tough

He was not arrested on that occasion but was held on Easter Monday after encountering another garda checkpoint near New Ross in Co Wexford, which was also over 2km from his home.

Gardai then consulted with the DPP and Constantin became the first person in Ireland to be charged under the tough new temporary laws.

Inspector Syl Hipwell outlined the facts of the case to Gorey District Court.

Gardai yesterday announced that there had been a high level of compliance nationwide with the public health guidelines but there had been some breaches.

"From April 8, which was when the regulations came into effect, until April 18 inclusive, gardai have invoked the regulations 34 times," a garda spokeswoman said.

"In all cases where arrests were made under the regulations, gardai consulted with the DPP on the decision to charge."