herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Gay 'outraged' at 'lenient' penalty for 187kmph speeding

Gemma Reilly
Gemma Reilly
Gay Byrne

FORMER road safety chief Gay Byrne has criticised the decision not to impose a driving ban on a former beauty queen who admitted speeding at 187kmph (116mph) on a motorway.

Mr Byrne, who stepped down as chairperson of the Road Safety Authority two months ago, said he was "outraged" by the ruling.

Judge Patrick Durcan's decision not to ban driver Gemma Reilly "sends the wrong message" on road safety, said the veteran broadcaster.

Ms Reilly - crowned Miss Limerick in 2010 - was fined €500 after pleading guilty to speeding in a 120kph zone on the Ennis to Gort motorway on March 3 in her mother's Mercedes car.

Ms Reilly told Ennis District Court: "I agree with the garda's evidence that I was speeding."

She told Judge Durcan her orthodontist is based in Galway "and I was extremely late for an appointment. I was driving my mother's car and didn't realise how fast I was going".

"I'm usually very diligent. I drive a 1.4 Golf myself. I have never been speeding before," she said.

Judge Durcan fined Ms Reilly and said: "I am not disqualifying you from holding a driver's licence because you have been absolutely honest in how you have dealt with the matter and I want to commend you on that.

EVIDENCE

"I must penalise you by virtue of the speed you were travelling at. If I had detected any element of dishonesty in your evidence I would have disqualified you, but I must say I found your honesty refreshing. Thank you," he added.

Responding to the report from Ennis District Court, Gay Byrne said that though he can no longer speak on behalf of Road Safety Authority, he is "outraged" by the decision.

"It is alarming that she was so far over the speed limit. Speaking personally as a driver, I am outraged by the treatment this driver has received. It was very, very lenient indeed," he said.

"This sends the wrong message. She was doing an outrageous speed. And she was outrageously lucky in the treatment she received from the judge," he added.

Also, road safety campaigner Christina Donnelly, who has been lobbying politicians for tougher motoring laws, said there should be a mandatory ban for drivers who grossly exceed speed limits.

Ms Donnelly's son Brendan (24) was killed five years ago in a car crash caused by a driver who was drunk, under the influence of drugs, and speeding.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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