A Dublin Airport taxi driver has been fined €250 after he was found guilty of failing to take an accountant on the shortest route to his home in Blackrock.
Barry Burns, aged 42, of Bath Rd, Balbriggan, Co Dublin. had contested a taxi regulation charge of not driving as directed by his passenger.
John Conroy told the court he travelled a lot for work and gets a taxi from the airport to his home in south Dublin. He always asked to be taken via the M1 and the fare was €35, he told Judge Miriam Walsh at Dublin District Court.
However, on March 20, 2015, when he went to take a taxi, the driver told him “the M1 was closed and did I see the screen in the airport?”
Mr Burns told him he would have to take an alternative route that would cost €10 or €15 more.
He used his phone to search the internet to see if the M1 was blocked while the driver asked him should he go via Finglas or the M50. He said the driver was talking to him about where he worked and “I would be able to claim the expense in any case”.
He wanted to go via the M1 and claimed the driver told him the M50 would be quickest. He said he felt under pressure to agree.
The witness alleged when he arrived at his home the fare was €64.40 and he had to go into his house to get money from his father. He said the driver provided a receipt which stated “M1 closed due to accident”.
In cross-examination, he told a defence barrister that he did not complain to the driver because “the whole atmosphere was not pleasant, that is the way I go, through the tunnel, I felt under pressure”, adding: “I said ‘fine, go the M50’.”
During the journey he tried to search the internet to see if the M1 was blocked but his phone was too slow. When he got home his mother called gardaí to check.
“I wanted to go the M1 and I was told there was an accident and it was blocked, that was not the case,” he said.
Mr Burns rejected the allegations and said he let Mr Conroy choose the route. He denied mentioning screens in the airport with traffic information.
He recalled traffic was heavy and claimed he told Mr Conroy there must have been an accident somewhere and the passenger said he wanted to get home quickly.
He agreed with Garda Sergeant Michael Higgins there was a quicker, alternative route but he claimed the passenger chose the way to go. He also claimed he and Mr Conroy chatted throughout the journey.
The defendant denied he had issued a receipt shown to court saying it had no identification information and he said the signature was not his.
He agreed in a statement to Garda Sgt Higgins he had said the fare was €64 but he j accepted €60.
In his evidence in court, he said that he told Mr Conroy he would take €55 but was given €60.
Judge Walsh said it may be a difference of just a fiver but it was a discrepancy and she found him guilty.
The trial heard no evidence of any accident on the M1.
Judge Walsh noted that Burns, who has been a taxi driver for 10 years, had no prior criminal convictions.
She also ordered him to pay €130 in witness expenses.
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