Court gives taxi licence back to brothel-keeper
A MAN with a conviction for brothel-keeping had his taxi driving licence returned yesterday after he said he needed it to make a living.
David Purcell (59) appeared at a hearing at the Four Courts in Dublin yesterday.
The court heard how Purcell failed to have his Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driving licence renewed by gardai earlier this year because of a conviction for brothel-keeping.
The case followed revelations in an RTE 'Prime Time Investigates' programme earlier this month which showed 7,000 taxi drivers have a criminal conviction -- or one in seven of all taxi drivers.
In 2007, Purcell, from Tymonville Park, Tallaght, west Dublin, was fined €1,200 after pleading guilty for his part in a prostitution racket.
Giving evidence yesterday when appealing the PSV decision by gardai, Purcell said he played a minor role in the brothel and was caught up with another man who was the main player. He said he was convicted because of his connection with the man, who had been under surveillance.
Explaining how he got involved, he said he met a prostitute in a pub one night who asked him if he had a premises that she could use.
Purcell would let her use a flat where he was staying, she would pay him and he would pay the rent.
The prostitute had a friend who would also use the flat for the purposes of selling sex.
Responding to questions from Garda Superintendent Declan Brogan, Purcell said the men would contact the girls on phone numbers through a website.
Counsel for Purcell said he was sorry for what he had done and had not been involved in any similar activity since his conviction.
He said Purcell required a PSV licence because taxi driving was his only means to make a living.
Giving her decision, Judge Mary Collins said there were significant concerns about the use of taxis by vulnerable people.
"I have concerns about hailing taxis at night myself. I don't do it," she said.
She accepted that Purcell played a minor role in brothel-keeping and returned his PSV licence on strict condition that he reported to gardai every three months.
Purcell agreed to the stipulations which included maintaining a clean record and staying out of trouble.
He declined to comment afterwards.