The builder who rammed the Irish parliament with a cement mixer in protest at the Anglo Irish Bank bail-out has been cleared of all criminal charges.
Galwayman Joe McNamara, 41, owes Anglo millions and made headlines around the world when he smashed his cement mixer truck into the gates of Dail Eireann last September.
McNamara was arrested on the spot and charged with criminal damage and dangerous driving after the truck, emblazoned with anti Anglo Irish Bank slogans, crashed into the home of the Irish government.
Minor damage, which cost just $50 to fix, was caused to the gateway’s paintwork by the truck which featured the slogans ‘Toic Bank’, ‘Anglo’, and ‘All Politicians Should Be Arrested’.
Dubbed a national hero by many citizens angry at the state’s bail-out of the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank, McNamara was dubbed the Anglo Avenger.
He was brought before Dublin District Court by the State on Monday to answer charges in relation criminal damage and dangerous driving because he had recklessly used a defective vehicle – the brake line of the vehicle was cut.
But Judge Ann Watkin dismissed all charges and said that she had a doubt as to whether the vehicle had been made defective en route or after he had brought it to a standstill.
“If I believed he had severed the brake pipes en route I would have to be satisfied that he took a risk that he would not stop and he might have injured someone and that would be dangerous driving,” she said.
“I am not satisfied that the State has established the time he was driving the vehicle it was dangerously defective.”
Judge Watkin also found that police witnesses had not made any notes to support claims that they cautioned McNamara to produce his licence and certificate of roadworthiness.
McNamara, who still owes the toxic Anglo Irish Bank several millions, revealed he was happy with the judgment afterwards.
“Since day dot this was not about publicity, it was to make a protest, that is it,” he said.
McNamara also revealed that he has since paid back some of the €7.5million he owes Anglo Irish. “The debt has reduced a hell of a lot since,” he said.
Solicitor Cahir O’Higgins told journalists after the case that he had represented McNamara for free.
“We were going to do it under the legal aid scheme. However, Joe made a point that he was protesting against the profligacy of the State in what he saw as expenditure of public money to save banks,” said O’Higgins.
“In that context he felt it unfair to apply for legal aid. I decided to carry on with the case,” he added.