Teacher accused of driving on ‘wrong’ hard shoulder

A JUDGE has taken time to consider his verdict in the case of a teacher who allegedly drove at speed along the hard shoulder on the wrong side of the road.
Annette McManus (26) of Ballyness Road appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Wednesday where she contested a charge of dangerous driving. 
During the hearing her defence team argued she had been stopped illegally as the officers who had pursued her car were not wearing police uniforms. 
The court heard from two close protection officers who had been driving in an unmarked armoured Landrover on the A4, in the direction of Enniskillen, on April 27th this year. 
The officers, who were wearing their civilian clothing, were travelling behind a queue of slow moving cars.
The officers said as they were passing the Coolebrooke River a Ford Mondeo in front of them pulled out in an attempt to overtake the queue. 
After the Ford moved out the officers noticed another car was coming in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. 
The Ford then pulled into the hard shoulder on the other side of the road, to avoid a head-on collision, and then appeared to accelerate up the hardshoulder, passing the queue of cars before pulling back in.
The officers decided to pursue the Ford, and activated their lights. 
The car stopped a short distance later and when the officers spoke with the driver, McManus, they said that she was upset and said she was sorry. 
Defence barrister, Mr McAleer, told the court that because the officers had not been in uniform they did not have the power to stop and speak with McManus. 
A representative of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said that if McManus, who is a teacher in England, had not complied she would not have faced prosecution for failing to stop or give her details. 
Mr McAleer said his client would not have been aware of this. 
The officers told the court they had pursued the car as they felt it was their duty. 
They pointed out that they didn’t know, before speaking with McManus, if the driver had been drinking or if there had been an emergency. 
Mr McAleer submitted several pieces of case law on the subject of police officers’ power to stop while not in uniform, which he showed there was legal precedent in such cases.
 District Judge Michael Ranaghan adjourned case to allow him to consider the case law and make “a reasoned judgement.” 

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