Sunday 20 January 2019

Dad-of-eight fined €16k for unpaid M50 trips claims he didn't know drivers had to pay toll

Rush hour on the M50 Photo: Arthur Carron
Rush hour on the M50 Photo: Arthur Carron

Patrick O'Connell

A CONVICTED fraudster, fined €16,000 for 407 unpaid trips on the M50, claimed this week he didn’t realise drivers on the M50 had to pay a toll.

Dad-of-eight Edward Corcoran also told the Sunday World he has no option but to fight the fines, saying when he rang the toll company’s solicitors they informed him he actually owes a total of €75,000 in fines, before adding: “I simply don’t have that kind of money.”

Edward was one of 26 motorists accused of failing to pay toll charges on the M50 motorway to be called before Dublin District Court on Monday. They were hit with a combined total of €300,000 in fines.

The court heard none of the defendants whose cases were dealt with attended their hearings or co-operated with the National Roads Authority (NRA), which the judge described as an aggravating factor.

Speaking this week, Edward, who was previously convicted of deception and the theft of €34,100 from Axa Insurance in 2008, said he had no prior knowledge of the case, while claiming he hadn’t even been aware tolls were applicable on the M50.

“The first I heard of any of this was when one of the lads saw it on the internet and told me about it,” Edward told us.

“I honestly thought when they took the toll barrier off the M50 a few years ago that was the end of the tolls. I can’t read or write so those signs they put up meant nothing to me.

“And where I live the post doesn’t come all the time. So I rang up their [the toll company’s] solicitors and I asked them about it and I was told that the €16,000 was just part of it.

“They said even if I do pay that I still owe the tolls of €2,500 and other fines of €18,000 and €39,000, so that’s more than €75,000 in total.

“They said the other fines owed came from two other vehicle that were registered to me.

“I have eight children and I live in a shed beside the mobile home so I never got any post from anyone about this.

“They can put me in jail for six months for every €5,000 I owe but if this is upheld I’ll have no choice but to go to prison because I just don’t have

the money.

“Any toll I’ve ever passed through that I knew about I paid.

“I told them yesterday I’m willing to come up with the money for the 207 journeys at €3.10 each or even at the €5.50 it went up to after it wasn’t paid in 24 hours.

“I’d have to borrow the money but they told me they can’t deal with me now. They said I’d have to go and get a solicitor.

“If the appeal doesn’t go through then they’ll have to jail me … but I’ll fight this as hard as I can.”

Corcoran – whose total of 407 journey’s might sound high – was not the defendant with the most unpaid tolls to be hit with five figure fines by the court.

That distinction fell to Christopher O’Donnell, from Westbrook Park, Balbriggan, who was prosecuted for five journeys in April last year.

However, it was noted that he had an “outstanding” amount of unpaid passages on the M50.

The court heard his car had done 785 journeys and one payment had been received.

His case had the highest number of unpaid tolls before the court on Monday and he was fined €14,000.

On top of the fines, which added up to €297,000, each defendant was ordered to pay €750 in prosecution costs.

About 22 cases were adjourned to allow those motorists engage with the NRA and six other motorists had their prosecutions withdrawn or struck out.

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