'Lazy' driver refused to take Maia's buggy in taxi
A taxi driver has been described in court as lazy and unwilling to get wet after he refused to take writer and television producer Maia Dunphy and her toddler in his car because she had a buggy.
The mum (41) and her two-year-old son had been caught in the pouring rain when she tried to hail Anthony Fannin's taxi at a rank at St Stephen's Green in Dublin on February 23 last year.
However, Dublin District Court heard Mr Fannin, from Cappagh Road, Finglas, Dublin, told her the buggy would not fit into the boot of his Toyota Avensis saloon.
The case went to a full court hearing yesterday after he had refused to accept an €80 fixed penalty notice
He was prosecuted by the National Transport Authority (NTA) on a charge of refusing to carry a passenger, which can result in a maximum €2,500 fine. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The TV presenter told the court she became angry with Mr Fannin and reported him to the NTA. Mr Fannin, a taxi driver for 25 years who hoped to retire next year, claimed he was concerned her buggy along with her shopping would not fit in the boot of his car.
Judge John Brennan found him guilty, but noted he was a man of mature years and had no prior convictions. He told the taxi driver that if he donated €250 to the Irish Down Syndrome Sporting Organisation and paid €150 toward prosecution costs the case would be struck out, meaning he would be spared a recorded criminal conviction.
Adjourning the case until May, the judge warned Mr Fannin that otherwise he would face a conviction with a €500 fine along with an order to pay €400 toward the NTA's legal costs.
Ms Dunphy gave evidence about her 30-second interaction with the driver. It had been raining heavily and she had the buggy with her child and was also carrying a bag and a box.
She had gestured toward his boot but, she alleged, he didn't get out of his car. The court heard she left saying "don't bother" after he recommended another taxi with more room.
NTA inspector Noel McNally carried out a test to prove the foldable buggy would have fitted in the boot of an Avensis and that there was "ample room".
Ms Dunphy said the buggy could fit in the boot of her mother's Nissan Micra.
In cross-examination with defence counsel Fiona Pekaar, it was put to the NTA official that Fannin had not wanted to put her to the bother of having to dismantle her buggy.
Mr McNally said that the driver had shown no willingness to do it and was a "lazy driver unwilling to get wet to provide a public service that he was duly obliged to".
In evidence, Mr Fannin accepted the buggy would have fitted in the boot, but there would not have been room for Ms Dunphy's shopping as well.