Monday 16 September 2019

Taxi driver accused of raping passenger in cab granted bail

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Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A TAXI driver has appeared in court charged with raping a passenger in his cab in Dublin city centre.

The accused (35), who is alleged to have attacked the young woman last December, was identified as a suspect following a high-profile media campaign including a feature on RTE’s Crimecall, a court heard.

He was granted bail at €6,000 subject to strict conditions, including a ban on driving a taxi pending his trial.

Judge John O’Leary adjourned the case at Dublin District Court today for the preparation of a book of evidence.

The accused, a foreign national with an address in south Dublin, is charged with two counts of raping and two counts of orally raping the woman at Emmet Street in Dublin 1 on December 9 last year.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Kelly told Judge O’Leary he arrested the accused at the man’s address at 8.45am today.

He brought him to Irishtown Garda Station where he had nothing to say in reply to any of the charges when they were put to him at 10.33am.

The DPP had directed that the case should be returned for trial to the Central Criminal Court when a book of evidence is ready, Sgt Kelly said.

He objected to bail, citing the nature and seriousness of the charges, and his belief that the accused was a flight risk.

He said at the time of the alleged incident, there was a high-profile media campaign. The case was also featured on RTE’s Crimecall, he said.

“It was subsequent to that, we believe that the accused left the jurisdiction,” Sgt Kelly said.

Applying for bail, defence solicitor Stephen O’Mahony said the accused had ties to Ireland, where he had lived for 15 years. His ex-wife lived in Dublin and was in court.

He also had family living here, including his brother.

There were no issues with the accused’s identity or address, Mr O’Mahony said.

The accused had been out of the jurisdiction when he became aware that the gardai were looking for him, Mr O’Mahony continued. The gardai had called to his address and told his brother the accused was a person of interest. His brother had notified the accused, who had contacted the gardai to tell them when he would be returning in January this year.

Mr O’Mahony said if the accused had gone to ground in his country of origin it would not have been an “easy task” for gardai to have him returned.

Sgt Kelly said the accused had family elsewhere as a support network and and “could go anywhere” to evade justice.

Mr O’Mahony said the accused had been detained for two days at Irishtown Garda Station and in a “very robust” interview, maintained the narrative that he was not guilty and was denying the offences.

The accused could be facing a wait for a trial of up to two years in custody if denied bail, Mr O’Mahony said.

He had stayed at the same address since he left the garda station in early January.

Sgt Kelly said the evidence in the case would be very strong and Mr O’Mahony said that would be “for a jury to decide.”

Judge O’Leary said it was undoubtedly a very serious charge but noted there had been no allegation of the accused interfering with witnesses, and he was presumed innocent.

He granted bail subject to conditions including a curfew between 10pm and 6am. The accused is to refrain from driving a taxi, stay away from the alleged victim and out of the north side of Dublin. He is also to sign on daily at his local garda station and surrender his passports to gardai.

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