Garda impersonator caught red-handed by actual guard
A Ballina man bought a Garda hat and flashing blue lights on eBay and impersonated a Garda, a court has been told.
Judge John King said Harley Bradley (27), from 24 Riverside, Grange, Ballina, was a fantasist who had ‘gone around saying he was a Garda’, while driving without insurance – and while already disqualified from driving.
Bradley pleaded guilty in Galway District Court last week to impersonating a member of an Garda Síochána at Maxol Petrol Station, Westside Shopping Centre, Galway, on October 28 last year, contrary to Section 60(1)(a) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
He also pleaded guilty to having no insurance or driving licence on the same date.
The court heard that Detective Padraig Healy pulled into the Maxol filling station at 9pm on October 28 last year and observed four youths pulling a trolley around the forecourt. He then saw the driver of a blue Ford Mondeo activate a blue light on the dashboard before telling the youths to leave the trolley back.
Det Healy approached the driver, who told him he was a member of An Garda Síochána, stationed in Oranmore. Det Healy, who is stationed in Oranmore, did not recognise him.
When questioned, Bradley gave him a false name but then admitted he was not a garda at all.
He apologised to Det Healy and said he would be on his way. Det Healy became suspicious and asked him for his identification before seizing the Ford Mondeo.
He soon discovered that Bradley had neither insurance nor a driving licence, and that he was already disqualified from driving.
Det Healy searched the car and found a garda hat in the boot. Bradley said he had bought the hat and flashing blue lights on eBay.
He told Det Healy he approached the youths because he wanted to move them on and not be messing with the trolley, as he was employed by Dunnes Stores.
Sergeant Georgina Lohan, prosecuting, confirmed that Bradley had three previous convictions. The first was recorded at Castlebar District Court in November 2016 for using a false instrument. He had also been convicted of dangerous driving and driving without insurance and had been disqualified from driving for two years at the time of this latest offence.
Defence solicitor, John Martin said his client was an assistant retail manager who worked a lot in Galway and who wanted to apologise for his actions.
He said Bradley had worked for the last five years with his current employers and was a father-figure to his younger siblings. He said his client had bought the Garda hat for a Hallowe’en party. He added that Bradley had activated the blue dash lights when he saw what the youths were doing.
Mr Martin said his client had stopped driving altogether and was now getting the bus between Galway and Mayo to see his partner and child there.
Judge King said Bradley had been driving while disqualified and that having Garda paraphernalia in his car did not make any sense. Hearing the maximum penalties for impersonating a Garda was a fine of €3,000 and/or 12 months in prison, the judge sentenced Bradley to two months in prison, suspending the sentence for two years.
He directed Bradley carry out 100 hours’ community service in lieu of six weeks in prison for driving without insurance, and he directed Bradley carry out a further 100 hour’s community service in lieu of a two-month consecutive sentence for driving without a licence.
“He is representing himself as a garda and driving around without insurance. I have serious concerns for someone going around saying he is a Garda. He’s a fantasist,” the judge observed.