- 25 Oct 23
The 77 year old folk singer was found guilty of dangerous driving in Co. Cork.
The sixties folk singer had attended a pre-recording of the Tommy Tiernan show on RTÉ.
He also failed to provide an intoxilyser sample to gardaí on the same occasion dismissed by Judge James McNulty at Skibbereen District Court.
Judge McNulty said he accepted the validity of evidence of respiratory consultant Oisin O’Connell, who carried out a series of tests on Donovan. O'Connell explained that Mr Leitch has severe COPD and restrictive lung disease leaving him unable to puff the required amount of breath in to the intoxilyser machine.
The Judge reserved his decision to charge Leith for drunk driving on February 11. He will deliver his judgement on February 13 at Skibbereen District Court. He will also impose sentence on the dangerous driving charge on that occasion.
Veronica Whooley opened the case with prosecution evidence as she was a passenger in a car which was being driven from Skibbereen to Leap in West Cork on February 11.
She admitted that she found the car in front of her was driving in a manner which raised concern. She contacted gardaí after she saw the car going back and forth over the white line from the left hand side to the right hand side of the road.
Whooley explained that she observed the driver going "around the bend on the wrong side of the road, at that point I felt I had to do something for the safety of the driver and for the safety of other road users. I called the guards and gave the vehicle [registration] number."
Garda Daniel Quinlan said that he received a call from Mrs Whooley at around 8pm. He and another garda made their way to the area where the car was parked to find Donovan in the driver's seat.
“He came across as very disorientated. His eyes were glazed and bloodshot and there was a strong smell of alcohol coming from his person."
He said the Mr Leitch's speech was slurred "but not over-slurred to be fair".
Garda Quinlan saw a half-empty open bottle of wine in the central console of the vehicle.
"He said he was on his way home to Castlemagner. I enquired if he knew where where he was and he replied he did not know where he was."
Garda Quinlan arrested Mr Leitch on suspicion of drunk driving. Garda Quinlan and the other garda noted that Mr Leitch was unsteady on his feet as they took him to the patrol car.
The singer was then brought to Bantry Garda Station.
The court heard that although Mr Leitch made an effort to give breath samples to the intoxilyser machine there was insufficient volume to give a reading.
Mr Leitch was charged with being drunk in charge of a vehicle and also with failure or refusal to give a breath sample. He said that Mr Leitch replied that he was ‘sorry’ when the charges were put to him. Thirdly, he was charged with dangerous driving later in the court hearing.