Rapist was allowed keep taxi licence

A LIMERICK taxi driver, jailed for seven years on Monday for raping a teenage customer, was allowed to continue working as a taxi driver by a District Court judge following the rape allegation despite objections by Limerick’s most senior garda officer.

John Ryan, 43, of Clonard, Westbury, was found guilty by a jury last November of raping the woman, now aged 21, on October 17, 2007, after picking her up in his cab near a city nightclub.

A senior Garda source last night confirmed that Ryan was the unnamed applicant who went to Limerick District Court on January 3, 2008, to appeal a decision of Chief Supt Willie Keane (now Assistant Commissioner) to revoke Ryan’s public service vehicle (PSV) licence following the rape allegation being made to gardaí and a file being sent to the DPP.

Chief Supt Keane revoked the licence on December 14, 2007, deeming the holder an unfit person as a result of certain admissions the driver made when he met him at Garda headquarters in Henry Street.

Chief Supt Keane, objecting to Ryan’s application for the restoration of his PSV licence, at the District Court hearing in January 2008, said he spoke with Ryan after getting legal advice.

Making his application for the return of his PSV licence, Ryan said the sex was consensual. In answer to Inspector Tom O’Brien, he denied that the woman was extremely drunk and claimed she was sober.

Solicitor John Herbert, in cross-examination of Chief Supt Keane, said his client accepted an invitation and did not perceive himself to be taking advantage of her.

Chief Supt Keane replied: “That’s what he said but in my view he has a duty of care to people, in particular vulnerable people like young women at four o’clock in the morning. He provides a public service.

“Even if it was consensual, which is a matter for another forum and a file is with the DPP, it is not something in my view that should happen where people put their trust in the driver.”

Judge Tom O’Donnell said the appellant, Ryan, had no previous convictions which would disqualify him from holding a PSV licence. “Given the fact that a formal complaint has been made, it is my view the matter should take its natural course. A decision to revoke the licence would seem premature given that he has not been charged, let alone convicted.” He said he also had to bear in mind taxi driving was the appellant’s sole means of livelihood and to take this away was tantamount to finding him guilty.

Imposing the seven-year sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said that persons holding public service vehicle licences were called upon to be persons of good character as people, particularly young girls, were reliant on them to bring them home safely late at night.

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