Friday 23 March 2018

NCT inspector caught by TV show passing vehicle deemed un-roadworthy avoids jail


Sonya McLean

An inspector at a Dublin NCT test centre has avoided a jail term after he was caught in a RTE Prime Time documentary passing a vehicle that independent mechanics had earlier deemed as un-roadworthy.

Darren Meehan (40) of Delemere, Enfield, Co Meath, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to producing a false National Car Test certificate at the Fonthill Centre, Clondalkin on May 14, 2011. He has two previous convictions for minor road traffic offences.

He was arrested and charged following a Garda investigation in the wake of an RTÉ Prime Time documentary in 2011.

It was accepted that Meehan checked three faults during a re-test and admitted that he had passed the car when it should have failed.

He said he had been asked to pass the car and agreed to do it due to “peer pressure”. Meehan had been working at the test centre a few months and didn't get a reward for his role.

Judge Melanie Greally suspended a two and half year sentence on strict conditions after accepting that the faults which Meehan checked in the vehicle did not pose a safety risk to other road users.

She accepted that Meehan was contrite and remorseful upon arrest and that his co-accused, who operated at a higher level, “materially benefited” from the scheme.

Judge Greally said NCT testers had a high level of responsibility and their conduct had broad implications for the wider community.

Detective Garda Sean O' Riordan agreed with Caroline Biggs SC defending, that Meehan was to check the rear safety belts, the headlights and the imbalance on the rear axle of the brakes. It was accepted that the fault with the brakes was “a performance issue” and the faults he checked were “not significant safety issues”.

Det Gda O' Riordan agreed with Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting that Meehan was “on the very bottom of the rung in terms of his involvement” and other co-accused are due to be dealt with later by the courts.

The Prime Time programme makers bought a 1996 Toyota Carina and had it examined by two independent mechanics who confirmed that it should not pass the NCT.

In May 2011 it was sent in for inspection and failed. A re-test was booked and in the meantime the programme makers paid €100 to a contact so that the car would pass the re-test.

The faults identified in the first test were never rectified and the vehicle was presented again. Meehan was the examiner on the re-test and he passed the car.

Det Gda O' Riordan agreed that the documentary showed Meehan starting the test before he was approached by a co-worker, a co-accused in the case, and had a conversation before he continued to inspect the car. He was then seen issuing the pass certificate.

The car was examined again by another mechanic following the re-test and still deemed un-roadworthy. The car was crushed later that same month.

Meehan was arrested in December 2012 and co-operated fully with the garda investigation.

Ms Biggs said her client was a married man with three children. He was immediately dismissed from his job with the NCT but had since secured new employment.

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