Student drunk-cycling could have caused ‘terrible accident’


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Judge strikes out charge against 18-year-old for riding bike while drunk
A judge has said that a Leaving Cert student guilty of drunk-cycling could have caused “a terrible accident”. However, the judge said he was impressed by the young man and did not wish to criminalise him for the offence.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment after Ghanaian national Sylvanus Akpaku (18) pleaded guilty to the new offence of drunk-cycling under the 2010 Road Traffic Act.

Mr Akpaku, Church View, Barefield, Ennis, Co Clare, pleaded guilty to cycling under the influence to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the bicycle on September 13th.

Garda Insp Tom Kennedy, who prosecuted the case, said yesterday that in his 12 years of prosecuting offences in the District Court, it is the first time that he had come across someone charged with drunk-cycling. Those convicted face fines of up to €2,000.

Insp Kennedy said that at about 11pm, Garda Eimear McDonagh observed Mr Akpaku cycling in an erratic manner in the middle of the road near Barefield.

Garda McDonagh said that Mr Akpaku “was cycling with his arms and his legs weaving in and out of the lane and the hard shoulder”.

Garda McDonagh said that the Ennis Community College student wore no reflective gear and, when stopped by the Garda patrol car, he was slurring his words and there was a smell of alcohol from him.

“I don’t think I can disqualify him from cycling, can I?” Judge Durcan said to Insp Kennedy.

The inspector said Mr Akpaku was “weaving in and out of the hard shoulder and could have caused an accident”.

Solicitor Tara Godfrey, for Mr Akpaku, said what her client did by cycling while drunk with no reflective gear “was dangerous and foolish”. Mr Akpaku had told her that he had drunk Bulmers cider after hearing that his grandfather had died. “He accepts that what he did was the completely wrong thing to do.”

Mr Akpaku told Judge Durcan that he arrived in Ireland one year ago and wanted to be a computer engineer. The judge told him that what he had done “was terribly dangerous and foolish”.

“Mr Akpaku is a very impressive young man,” he said, “and I don’t want to criminalise him and I will strike out the charge.” He added: “Don’t let this happen again.”

Insp Kennedy added that the prosecution of Mr Akpaku sent out the message “that those who drink and cycle and don’t wear reflective gear at night will be prosecuted”.

Conor Faughnan, corporate affairs manager with the Automobile Association, welcomed the prosecution. “There are two million motorists in Ireland and 99 per cent will be happy to hear about this prosecution,”he said."

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