Tuesday 27 September 2016

Bogus taxi driver stopped by gardai with female passenger in car had €60,000 mortgage arrears

Trevor Johnson (38) banned from driving for four years and fined €600

Andrew Phelan

Published 30/03/2016 | 14:59

Trevor Johnson leaving CCJ. Parkgate street, Dublin.
Trevor Johnson leaving CCJ. Parkgate street, Dublin.

A bogus taxi driver stopped by gardai with a female passenger in his car had worked as a cabbie before losing his licence, a court heard.

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Trevor Johnson (38) was in “dire financial circumstances” after being put off the road for uninsured driving when he decided to continue operating without a licence.

Dublin District Court heard he was in €60,000 mortgage arrears, was in “desperate” need of money and there was “nothing else at play.”

Johnson, a father-of-one of Gortmore Avenue, Finglas, admitted unlawfully using a taxi sign and PSV licence while suspended.

He also pleaded guilty to uninsured driving in the incident on March 4.

Judge Grainne O'Neill banned him from driving for four years, fined him €600 and told him he could avoid a three-month jail sentence if he is found suitable to carry out 100 hours community service.

Garda Damien Duffy told the court he was on routine patrol at 10.25pm at Bride Street in Dublin 8 when he saw the accused driving a 2007-registered silver Skoda.

It appeared to be a taxi and had a number fixed to the roof, with a corresponding number on the door panels.

There was a young woman sitting in the back seat.

The car appeared to be missing certain window stickers that a taxi should have so the garda stopped him. Johnson was  “very co-operative and forthright,” he said.

He told the garda he had been a taxi driver up to one point last year but was put off the road and found himself in “dire financial circumstances.”

This “forced him to use the vehicle that was at one point a taxi to ply his trade.”

The accused had told the garda had no other source of income and “took a chance.”

He had no taxi licence in place at the time, as well as no valid driving licence or insurance documents.

The garda had no reason to doubt the accused’s explanation.

The passenger had thought it was a legitimate taxi.

Judge O’Neill asked the garda: “Was there anything else at play here?”

“No, but I can understand why you would make that assumption,” the garda said.

He had carried out extensive enquiries and repeated that he had no reason to doubt that the accused’s actions had been because of his financial circumstances.

Johnson had been in €60,000 mortgage arrears, his solicitor Noelle Kenny said.

He had worked as a plumber but lost his job during the crash.

Johnson, who apologised, had been in “desperate financial need” when he made a “very silly decision,” she said.

Judge O'Neill adjourned the case for a community service suitability report.

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