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Liar Liar; ANGRY JUDGE ACCUSES DRUNK MUSICIAN SHARON OVER CRASH.

Byline: ANN HEALY and DECLAN FAHY

TOP traditional musician Sharon Shannon was branded a liar by a judge yesterday when she was convicted of a drunken car smash.

The bestselling artist crashed into a parked car while almost three times over the limit. She denied she was at the wheel in the 6.30am accident after an all-night boozing session.

Shannon, 35, of Devon Gardens, Salthill, Galway, was banned from driving for two years and fined EUR800 at the local District Court. Convicting the musician for drink-driving, Judge Mary Fahy told her: "This case is based on lies. The court has been subjected to total and utter and outright lies by the defendant and her witnesses.

"They told blatant lies in this court today. I'm quite happy the driver was Sharon Shannon. Coming into court and telling lies under oath is considered minor by these people."

Co Clare-born Shannon admitted in court she was "very drunk" on the night and banged her head on the windscreen in the impact.

But Shannon denied she was driving when the accident happened on the morning of September 26, 2001, at Taylor's Hill, Galway.

She said her partner Leo Healy had been in control of the car but told a Garda she was driving because Healy was not insured.

Shannon told court: "All I remember is it was definitely Leo who was driving and not me. I was really drunk. On the night I said I was driving because I was trying to protect Leo."

The musician and Healy had been drinking at a party at Crane Bar on Sea Road, Galway, before the accident.

Garda Padraig Nee told the court Shannon's car had crashed into a parked car on the scene.

He said that when he arrived, Shannon was unsteady on her feet, slurred her words and smelled strongly of alcohol. Healy was standing on the roadway nearby.

Garda Nee asked Shannon if she had been driving and she admitted she had.

But Healy said he had been in charge of the vehicle. The garda asked her a second time if she was driving and she again said she was.

A breath test later showed a reading of 99 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - almost three times over the legal limit.

Healy told the court he was driving but Shannon said she was to cover for him.

He admitted not having insurance and to have drank 10 pints of Guinness at the party.

Singer-songwriter Frankie Lane was a back-seat passenger in the crash and said Healy had been driving. He told the court he broke his nose and was concussed in the crash.

Inspector Tony O'Donnell said both Healy and Lane were telling lies and had tried to mislead the court.

The court heard he said to Healy: "You decided to take the wrap for the driver on the night for the purpose of deceiving this court."

Judge Fahy said she was "quite happy" the accused had been driving the car.

She noted that if Healy had been driving the car he would have protested at the Garda station instead of waiting quietly for his partner while she gave a sample.

CAPTION(S):

DRUNK: Sharon was almost three times over the limit
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2004
Words:542
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