Singer Donovan convicted of dangerous driving in Co Cork

Singer Donovan Convicted Of Dangerous Driving In Co Cork
The offence took place after Donovan attended a pre-recording of the Tommy Tiernan show on RTÉ
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Olivia Kelleher

Sixties folk singer Donovan Leitch has been convicted of a charge of dangerous driving in Co Cork.

The offence took place on February 11th after he attended a pre-recording of the Tommy Tiernan show on RTÉ.


Mr Leitch (77), of Castlemagner, Kanturk, had a charge of failing 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.

Professor O’Connell, who carried out a series of tests on the Scottish national, said Mr Leitch has severe COPD and restrictive lung disease leaving him unable to puff the required amount of breath in to the intoxilyser machine in Bantry Garda Station on the night of his arrest.

Judge McNulty reserved his decision on a charge that Mr Leitch was drunk in charge of a vehicle at Aghills in Skibbereen on February 11th.  He will deliver his judgement on same on February 13th at Skibbereen District Court. He will also impose sentence on the dangerous driving charge on that occasion.


The case opened with prosecution evidence from Veronica Whooley, who was a passenger in a car which was being driven from Skibbereen to Leap in West Cork on the evening of February 11th.

Mrs Whooley observed that the driver in front of her was driving in a manner which made her apprehensive. 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.

"He [the driver] went 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."

She subsequently saw the vehicle parked “partially on and off the road".


Garda Daniel Quinlan told the court 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.

He said Mr Leitch was 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 singer's speech was slightly slurred "but not over-slurred to be fair".


He said he 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 helped Mr Leitch to the patrol car as he was unsteady on his feet.

Mr Leitch was brought to Bantry Garda Station. However, 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.

Garda Quinlan charged Mr Leitch 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. The third charge of dangerous driving was added at a later court hearing.

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