A taxi driver has been accused of stealing a phone from one of his customers and three counts of handling stolen property in respect of two other passengers who complained of their phones going missing in his car.
Three passengers appeared at Cork District Court to tell Judge Con O’Leary of their experiences in the taxi driven by Philip Nnamani, of Tuairin Glas, Greenfields, Ballincollig, Co Cork.
The alleged offences date back to 2015 and 2016. Detective Garda David Hickey said the accused returned to Nigeria but then came back to Cork more recently. When the case was called for hearing at Cork District Court today, defence solicitor, Michael Quinlan, said the accused was not present.
Inspector Gary McPolin said the defendant had told the investigating detective that he had returned to Nigeria again but would be coming back to Cork for the case.
Judge O’Leary said he would hear the evidence from the complainants and from Det Garda Hickey, and he told defence solicitor, Michael Quinlan, that he would then adjourn the case until July 30 to give Mr Nnamani time to court to testify in his own defence.
Det Garda Hickey testified that when he interviewed the taxi driver in relation to allegations that he had stolen or was handing stolen mobile phones, the defendant said that the phones were left in his car, he could not trace the owners, and he had intended to hand them in to his local garda station.
Det Garda Hickey said in the course of an interview - a memo of which was read in evidence – that this claim that the defendant was about to hand them in to a garda station was “a pack of lies.”
The defendant replied that it was true that he intended handing phones found in his taxi to gardaí.
Det Garda Hickey said that they went to the home of the accused in Ballincollig with a search warrant on February 25 and found the phones in a suitcase.
Det Garda Hickey said the defendant told him that another taxi driver had given him the phones. He then put it to the defendant in interview that this was inconsistent with the defendant telling him also that “they (the phones) were in my taxi but I did not steal them.”
At the end of his interview, he was asked if he wanted to change or add anything and the defendant said:
I would like to change the idea that they were given to me by another taxi driver. That is not correct.
Three passengers gave evidence of travelling from Cork city to their homes and what occurred in relation to their mobile phones.
Michael Morris said he was short €5 for his fare when he arrived home at Eagle Valley, Sarsfield Road, at 2.30am on February 13, 2016.
“I told him I would run in and get it. He demanded that I hand over my phone. I came back and asked him to bring me to an ATM (instead). He brought me home. I paid the full fare. He said he had already give me back my phone to me and he drove off. I am 100% certain he did not give the phone back to me,” Mr Morris said.
Mr Nnamani is charged with theft in relation to that phone. He is charged with handling stolen property in relation to two other witnesses.
Kevin Fitzgibbon, of Half Way, Ballinhassig, Co Cork, got a taxi home on August 3, 2015, and said he thought he had taken out his phone and left it in the car and that the defendant had driven away with the phone in the car.
Rebecca Roche, of Donnybrook, Cork, got a taxi on September 12, 2015, and had to go to an ATM near the end of the journey. She said she left her handbag in the car so the driver would not think she was running away. She said she was “pretty sure” the phone was in the bag in the taxi but it was not in her bag when she checked at home.