Wednesday 20 February 2019

Former UN translator offered €50 'gift' to examiner during fifth attempt at driving test

Mother of three found guilty over cash 'bribe' she left on dashboard

Zhyan Sharif offered cash to the examiner as an inducement to pass her
Zhyan Sharif offered cash to the examiner as an inducement to pass her
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A former United Nations translator tried to bribe a Dublin driving test instructor with €50, maintaining later it was simply a "token of gratitude".

Zhyan Sharif (51) had already failed the test four times and was sitting it again when she offered the examiner the cash as an inducement to pass her.

She also failed that fifth test and the instructor reported the attempted bribe to her boss.

Sharif claimed in court it was common in Islamic culture for women to give "little gifts" to each other, and the money was to thank the instructor for being "so nice".

She said she was unaware what she was doing was unlawful, and denied trying to corrupt an official.

Judge Patricia McNamara found her guilty but struck the case out at Tallaght District Court, leaving Sharif without a criminal record after she donated €500 to charity.

The defendant, a married mother of three of The Deanery, Celbridge, Co Kildare, had pleaded not guilty to offering an official an inducement to pass a driving test.

The incident took place at the Road Safety Authority, Brookhills Industrial Estate, Tallaght, on October 28, 2016.

Driving tester Elizabeth Bowes gave evidence that when she got into the defendant's car there was a tissue box on the dashboard, and while she thought this was unusual, she did not think much more of it.

When Sharif drove round the first bend, the tissue box moved and there was €50 underneath it.

Ms Bowes said Sharif told her, "Thanks for everything. Thanks for being so nice to me." She responded saying: "I get paid my salary and don't take gifts."

Ms Bowes said Sharif told her: "This is my fifth time sitting the test. Just take it anyway." Ms Bowes explained to Sharif that she could not accept gifts and she would have to report it.

Stephen Montgomery BL, for Sharif, put it to Ms Bowes that the money was a tip, the same way a person would tip a taxi driver, and the defendant was not asking for anything.

Ms Bowes said she could not accept any gifts or tips.

In her evidence, Sharif claimed she was making a kind gesture as Ms Bowes had been so nice to her, and there was "no malice" in what she had done.

State solicitor Michael Durkan put it to Sharif she was sitting the test for a fifth time and was trying to persuade Ms Bowes to let her pass.

This was denied by Sharif, who said it was a little gift "woman to woman", and she had not offered anything to the male testers.

The court heard Sharif was a PhD student and was working in an Irish university as a translator.

She had worked for the UN as well as the International Red Cross and had no previous convictions.

Judge McNamara said the accused had said in her culture it would be normal for women to give each other gifts and she had offered the money as a "token of gratitude" and a "gesture of thanks".

She said she found the facts proven but was willing to allow the accused to make a charitable donation.

Irish Independent

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