A bus driver in Blarney was video-recorded by youths and punched in the ear when they insisted on being given child rather than adult fares.
Bus Éireann driver Donal Forbes said one youth got on and paid his adult fare and two of his friends came on after and wanted child fares.
“They were messing over paying. They were aggressive and abusive. They took out a phone to video-record me. The phone was put in front of my face. I took my hood up to cover my face.
“They continued to try and record me. I contacted Capwell bus depot for assistance at this point. They [the youths] realised the guards were going to call. I got a dig in my left ear. I got more abuse and they were aggressive and they left the bus,” Mr Forbes testified at Cork District Court.
The bus driver said Garda Catherine Byrne and Garda Seán Duggan arrived to deal with the matter. The two men who left the bus were later seen again at Willison Park in the Blarney area.
“They were talking to me together with the gardaí. Their behaviour towards the gardaí was not nice,” Mr Forbes said.
Michael Quinlan, defence solicitor, said when one of the youths approached in the initial disputed incident, the driver allegedly said: “Am I going to have trouble with you?”
Mr Forbes replied, “I don’t remember making a comment like that.”
Judge Marian O’Leary asked the driver: “Did you say that?” Mr Forbes replied: “No.”
Shane O’Shea, aged 19, of 35 Riverview Estate, Blarney, Co Cork, pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Forbes.
He said he went to get on the bus at 10.40pm on May 14, 2021. He was 18 at the time.
Shane O’Shea testified: “I asked him for a ticket. He would not give me a ticket. I said, ‘Can you please give us a ticket’. He said: ‘If you don’t get off the bus I will call the guards’. He would not give us a ticket. I decided to record it. I was recording it for my sake.”
He said when he was recording the driver with his phone, the driver hit his hand. “I felt myself being hit. I reacted by hitting back. He hit my hand away when I put my phone in.”
Cross-examined by Inspector Anne Marie Guiney, the teenager said he never asked for a child’s ticket.
“Do you think it is acceptable to record the driver?” Insp Guiney asked. He replied with a question, “Why was I being refused on public transport?”
The inspector said: “You were antagonising the driver with a camera — do you think that is acceptable?” The defendant replied: “No I don’t.”
Judge Marian O’Leary said: “On Shane O’Shea’s own admission, he did hit him. I find him guilty.”
Noting the accused had no previous convictions, the judge said she would not proceed to conviction but would strike the matter out if he did three hours a week of voluntary work for a period of 10 weeks and pay €300 to the court poor box.
“If that is done I will strike it out. If that is not done there will be a conviction and fine of €400,” Judge O’Leary said.