Thursday 23 January 2020

Taxi driver ripped-off customers 270 times using remote control

Stock photo
Stock photo

Tom Tuite

A taxi driver scammed passengers 270 times over a six-month period by secretly using a remote control to add €9 to fares, a court has heard.

It was the second case to come before Dublin District Court since the National Transport Authority (NTA) launched an investigation into widespread use of a remote device to rip-off unsuspecting taxi passengers.

Raymond Pidgeon (63), from Kilakee Close, Greenpark, Walkinstown, Dublin 12, pleaded guilty yesterday to overcharging customers 270 times contrary to the Taxi Regulation Act. He was accused of using a concealed remote control device to increase fares on his meter, which he did 15 times a week from February 1 until June 12 last year.

As a result of mitigating factors, he was handed a nominal fine of €200 and ordered to pay €400 in prosecution costs.

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NTA inspector Liam Kavanagh told the court he investigated claims some taxis were systematically overcharging passengers by covertly using a remote device with certain meters. Following a customer complaint, Pidgeon had been interviewed by the NTA in mid-June about a €20 overcharge on a fare. The inspector became suspicious by Pidgeon's explanation and €9 could not be accounted for.

He learned the taxi driver used an Aguila meter, the type being used with the remote control. He cautioned Pidgeon again and told him he was also investigating the use of remote devices to overcharge taxi passengers. "At that point he broke down and admitted he was one of the drivers," the NTA inspector said. He had done it for eight months but could only be charged for the offences committed over the latest six-month period.

As a result of the NTA investigation, 206 taxi meters were recalled and had to be recalibrated. Pidgeon, who had no prior convictions, was co-operative. Prosecuting solicitor Jason Teahan said the NTA was aware the accused had a severely ill wife.

Judge Anthony Halpin asked the accused what had motivated him. Pidgeon said he had money worries and his wife had been in hospital.

Irish Independent

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