A TAXI driver stole a customer's iPhone when the man trusted him to charge it in his cab, then forgot to take it back at the end of the journey.
Patrick Lyons (40) helped himself to the phone after the passenger got out, then sold it to a mobile phone shop where it was eventually tracked down.
He was put on probation for a year when he admitted a theft charge at Dublin District Court.
Lyons, with an address at Fortlawn Avenue, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to stealing the phone at Harcourt Street on July 15.
The prosecuting garda said Lyons picked up the fare, who asked if he could charge his iPhone in the car. When he got to Harcourt Street, the victim got out but forgot to take his phone with him.
Lyons drove off and when he realised the phone was missing, the victim called it but it had been switched off.
The victim had a ‘find my iPhone’ app and used it to locate it at a mobile phone and laptop repair shop on Parnell Street.
The phone was recovered in good working order and returned to the victim.
Inquiries were carried out and Lyons was identified through information from the victim's conversation with him and “very good quality” CCTV footage from the phone shop.
Lyons had previous convictions for offences including theft of petrol from a filling station and driving without insurance.
He had not been banned from driving on the insurance charge and told the court he had been hiring the taxi from a man who was supposed to have had it insured.
Lyons, a father of three, was working part-time as a taxi driver and had been going through a “bad time” when he committed the theft, his barrister told the court.
He was having health problems and committed what was an “opportunistic” crime on the spur of the moment.
Judge Ann Watkin said the accused had stolen before, was given a chance by the courts and carried out the latest theft five months later.
“He didn't learn from it, but set against that, he didn't set out to do this, it was an opportunity that presented itself and he took it,” the judge said.
The court heard the garda was obliged to notify the taxi regulator of the conviction and the circumstances – that it was in the course of his job and a “breach of trust”.
She did not know if his licence would be taken away as a result.
“People get into taxis, very often late at night with a lot of alcohol on them, although there's no evidence of that here, and trust that they won't be abused,” Judge Watkin said.