GARDAÍ in Limerick should offer their notebooks up for examination by legal defence teams, a court heard this week.
At Newcastle West District Court Prosecuting Inspector Gearoid Thompson had to argue to retain prosecutions against two alleged drink drivers.
Defending solicitors Michael O’Donnell and Michael Lane both asked Judge Carol Ann Coolican to strike out the cases against their clients because notebooks containing contemporaneous notes of the prosecution evidence had not been made available to them before the case came to court.
Both argued that not being able to see what was in the Garda notes put their clients at a disadvantage in defending themselves against the charges.
Inspector Thompson told the court that the notes taken at the time of both incidents contained “exactly the same information that was in the statements, which were made available.”
He said there would be “no evidential rabbits out of hats” for the defence to contend with as they already had all the information that is in the notes.
But the inspector also noted that it is “best practice” to give the defence sight of the notebooks before a case and it would be his instruction to members to do so in the future.
Judge Coolican ruled that there was no prejudice to the two defence cases and pointed out that, in one case, the notes had been shown to the defence before the court started on that morning.
She put both cases back for a later date.