A Clonmany motorist, who was operating an illegal taxi service, has been fined but kept his driving licence.
Damien Grant, Gortfad (30) appeared at Carndonagh District Court last week, charged with failure to produce an insurance certificate, not having a small public service vehicle licence and no insurance at Cleagh, Clonmany on August 18th, 2013.
Garda Inspector David Murphy told the court that on that date, Sergeant Bradley was on mobile patrol in the area and parked the Garda patrol car facing ‘the Cross,’ in Clonmany.
He saw people standing outside, including a woman.
The court heard the woman approached the footpath and put her hand in the air.
She then started calling: ”taxi.”
Insp. Murphy said the Sgt. then saw a car stop beside the woman.
The driver, Grant, then spoke to her and she got into the front passenger seat of the vehicle.
The Sgt followed the car and stopped Grant at Cleagh.
He produced his driving licence and a certificate of insurance, issued by Zurich insurance.
It was put to Grant that he was operating an illegal taxi service, which he initially denied.
The Garda told him he observed the woman “flagging him down.”
Insp. Murphy said the passenger was “extremely intoxicated” and got out of the vehicle, before Grant told her to get back in.
Grant then admitted to Sgt. Bradley he had dropped people to a hotel earlier in the night and they had given him “a few euro.”
He was asked if his insurance company was aware he was using the car for hire or reward and he confirmed they didn’t.
The court heard Grant had previous convictions in 2004 for dangerous driving and no insurance, for which he was disqualified for one year. He also has a previous disqualification as well as drink driving, for which he was fined and disqualified for two years.
Defence solicitor Ciaran MacLochlainn said Grant was unemployed, with three children.
He said he was at his “wits end” trying to make ends meet and decided to try taxi-ing around Clonmany.
He pointed out his client was insured, but not for the purposes of hire or reward.
Mr MacLochlainn said his client was “constantly” looking for work and had been offered a job with Buncrana Tidy Towns committee, which he hopes to take up.
He added that Grant’s previous no insurance conviction was ten years ago.
Judge Paul Kelly fined Grant 200 euro for failure to produce insurance. He fined him a further 200 euro for not having a small public service vehicle licence.
He struck out the no insurance charge. As he did so, Grant thanked him.