Donegal Judge agrees there are speed camera van shortcomings

A Judge in Donegal has agreed there are a "number of shortcomings" in relation to speed camera vans across the country.

In Buncrana District court this morning a number of Inishowen solicitors challenged the legality of the speed vans, which have been in operation since November 2010

Solicitors Frank Dorrian, Pat McMyler and Ciaran MacLochlainn argued the way in which the fixed penalty notices are sent when a vehicle has been caught speeding.

Mr. MacLochlainn claimed the speed vans have "no way of proving" who was driving the vehicle at the time the speeding was recorded.

“Gardai used to stand at the side of the road with a camera and when they saw someone speed they would stop them, identify them and charge them. That has been completely done away with.

“If someone takes the stand and swears they weren’t driving that should be the end of it, unless the State can prove otherwise. It is enshrined on the law that a person is innocent until proven guilty but there seems to be a switch now where the onus of truth now rests on the defence.”

In agreement Mr. Frank Dorrian said, “Sworn evidence must trump the presumption” made by the speed van.

Mr. McMyler took issue with the presumption the person had actually received the fixed penalty notice in the post.

“If evidence is given a person has not received the fixed penalty notice in the post, then the State are bound by the answer given by the defendant. A case must be proved beyond all reasonable doubt and not by throwing accusations from the floor.”

Judge Paul Kelly agreed there have been a “number of shortcomings” in relation to speed cameras since they were introduced.

“There is particular issues which have led to me to address these matters in the first place, especially in relation to the presumption and proof of driving. This spanner has been rumbling for some time and it is time it was dealt with.”

Inspector David Murphy invited the legal practitioners so put their “submissions in writing” and send them to his office to  “allow him to put the matter to bed once and for all”.

Mr. Dorrian agreed the solicitors would get together and put down their “concerns on paper” and make one joint submission to the Inspector.

Judge Kelly concluded saying: “We have danced around this for long enough, it is time it was addressed,” before asking the solicitors to make their submission before the 12th April.