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Fool of the road Disqualified mother-of-three with no insurance drove to her local garda station to renew her licence

Known: 32 prior convictions

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Charged: Kathleen Stokes

Charged: Kathleen Stokes

Charged: Kathleen Stokes

THIS is the mum of three who drove to her local Garda station to pick up a form to renew her driving licence - despite being disqualified and having no insurance.

Kathleen Stokes from St Anthony's Park in Cork, was already extremely well-known to gardai, having clocked up 32 previous convictions for theft-related offences, when she drove to Gurranabraher Garda station last weekend.

Sources have confirmed to the Sunday World that Stokes (45) was observed driving into the station - before approaching the front desk and asking for the licence renewal form.

It is believed that the officer on duty, suspecting that Stokes was in fact disqualified, decided to carry out a check on her driving status and vehicle.

On doing so, he confirmed that Stokes is currently disqualified from driving for four years and also that the car she drove to the station in had no insurance or NCT.

Stokes was immediately arrested and later left with two charge sheets and a court date - but no driving licence renewal form.

"I mean, you literally could not have made this up," a source told the Sunday World.

"It's not as if this was someone gardai would be unfamiliar with."

Burglary

Stokes, the Sunday World can reveal, has 32 previous convictions including for burglary, theft and receiving stolen goods.

Most recently, she was sentenced to three years in prison by Judge Sean O Donnabhain in November of 2017 for possession of a stolen safe.

According to sources, the new Garda Mobility App was used to carry out a check on Stokes' vehicle.

The app allows gardai who stop a car to instantly check the driver's details including if they are fully licensed, if they have a disqualification or penalty points as well as whether the car is taxed and has a valid NCT.

It also allows gardai to issue fixed charge penalties from the roadside, cutting down on time spent on paperwork back at the station.

Gardai say the app puts an end to roadside 'bluffing' by motorists.

The app started to roll out in small numbers at the end of last year but is now being rolled out nationwide with a significant number of successes in recent weeks.

As well as detecting Stokes, the app has caught numerous other rogue motorists around the country in recent weeks including a driver in Tallaght two weeks ago who had no licence or insurance and was driving a vehicle that hadn't been taxed for over three years.

Kilkenny cops spotted a motorist trying to drive away from a checkpoint just over a week ago and pulled him over before using the Mobility App on his vehicle.

They found that not only was he disqualified from driving and had no insurance but there was also an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

Seized

The vehicle was seized and the man was brought to court.

Earlier this month in Co. Meath gardai used the app to discover a tractor they had pulled over hadn't been taxed for 16 years

This week in Galway gardai stopped a van driver who was going at 148kmh on the M6. He tried to bluff to gardai that he had a full licence but they used the app to discover he was on a learner's permit. His vehicle was seized and he is set to appear before the courts.

Clare gardai also seized a number of vehicles using the app. This week they used the app to detect that one driver hadn't taxed his car for 143 days and had no NCT. They then tested him for drugs and he tested positive for cocaine.

The app is likely to reduce the number of disqualified drivers and those uninsured who continue to drive on the roads.

It is estimated that there are up 150,000 uninsured drivers who continue to drive on Irish roads and last year Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said only 11 per cent of 83,000 drivers disqualified from driving in the previous eight years had surrendered their licence.

There have been 34,487 disqualification orders issued to just over 23,000 people in the two-and-a-half years to the end of July.

The number of disqualification orders rose from 14,155 in 2018 to 14,769 last year while the numbers disqualified for the first half of this year was 5,563 though that figure was lowered due to the impact of the Covid pandemic.

A garda spokesman said: "The mobile data station is a key tool used by frontline gardai in detecting motoring offences, allowing them to access real-time information on drivers and vehicles, and most recently to electronically initiate fixed charge penalty notices.

"It is part of an overall programme of digitalising policing where Garda tradecraft and experience are being increasingly complemented by device-based access to data."

The spokesman said 10,515 proceedings have been taken for driving without a licence in the first six months of the year while a further 20,557 proceedings were taken last year and 22,527 in 2018.