Rollerblading 71-year-old from Belfast branded a danger
Wednesday 25 February 2009
An Ulster pensioner found guilty of causing a danger to pedestrians by rollerblading in a busy town centre says he believes he did not harm anyone.
Father-of-three Geoffrey Dornan, 71, who is originally from Belfast but now lives in Normanhurst, Ormskirk, was accused of two counts of breaking a council bylaw by skating in Chapel Street in Southport, Merseyside, in October last year.
He was accused of two offences of skating, sliding or riding on footpaths in “such a manner as to cause danger or give reasonable grounds for annoyance” to pedestrians.
Dornan, who has been skating for more than seven years, denied breaking the bylaw and told North Sefton Magistrates’ Court he had a “code of practice” which meant pedestrians always had an “unconditional” right of way.
The retired youth worker also told the court he tried to give people as much space as possible and used his rollerblades responsibly.
But chairman of the bench Fraser Wallace said: “We find the manner of your skating put pedestrians at risk and exposed them to harm.”
Mr Wallace said it was clear Chapel Street was not meant to be used as a “skate park” and said Dornan’s behaviour “causes a danger” to the public.
A fine of £300 and costs of £1,792 were “suspended” by Mr Wallace after Andrew Scott, defending, said an appeal notice had been handed to the prosecution. The appeal case will be heard at a crown court at a later date.
Earlier during his evidence in chief, Dornan told the court: “I think people suspect that I am more dangerous than I am.”
When asked about his actions and behaviour in the CCTV, Dornan said: “I’m saying that I gave no cause for reasonable annoyance. I gave way to every single person... not a single person had to hesitate.”
Dornan told the court he had “discovered” how important skating was for his health because now he is on medication for back pain.
The court also heard Dornan had also spoken to and written to the police regarding skating in Southport.
Mr Scott said Dornan was a person with “71 years of good character” and this was an “unusual case, a novel case”.
He told the court Dornan was an “advocate of safe skating” and skating was “permitted” in Chapel Street.
In his closing speech, Mr Scott said: “Mr Dornan, on any of the evidence you have seen, has not made any physical contact with any individual. Not the slightest.”
Speaking outside court Mr Dornan said his reaction to the guilty verdicts on the two counts was “very mixed”.
He said: “I’m deeply disappointed but I accept the verdicts. |Having said that I intend to appeal.”
Mr Dornan told reporters he was “fully aware” that people in the street do unexpected things and change direction suddenly.
He said: “Because I am on skates I’m more manoeuvrable than somebody in shoes. The last time I was bumped into by somebody else I was in shoes.
“I’m not saying things can’t go wrong.
“I don’t accept this premise that skating is inherently dangerous.”
Mr Dornan added he would not be giving up skating.
This article is taken from the Belfast T elegraph
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