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Barrister fined €150 for failing to pay taxi

A YOUNG barrister has been convicted of making off from a taxi without paying the fare after a night spent dining at the Kings Inns.

Patrice Lucid (27) was fined €150 for the offence that happened in what was described in court as "a very unfortunate and odd incident".

She got out of the cab with her boyfriend in the city centre without paying, then told gardai she had never seen the driver before in her life.

Lucid, a law student at the time, had denied the charge, saying the driver had driven so dangerously that her boyfriend leapt out in a panic and she felt she had to follow him.

Judge Catherine Murphy refused to apply the Probation Act and convicted Lucid, formerly of Avondale Road, Phibsboro, under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act.

She also ordered the accused, who had no criminal record, to pay the €12 taxi fare to the driver, John Byrne.



Boyfriend

Dublin District Court heard Lucid's boyfriend, Justin Keane, had been prosecuted for assaulting the driver but his conviction was overturned on appeal.

Garda Gillian Colliton told the court she was called to the scene of the incident on Ormond Quay Lower at 1.30am on February 16, 2008.

Mr Byrne, who was in a very distressed state, pointed out the accused and Mr Keane.

"She stated to me that she had never seen John Byrne before in her life", the garda said.

Mr Keane was arrested and taken to the Bridewell Garda Station.

Mr Byrne told the court the pair hailed him on Bolton Street and he drove them to the north quays. He said when they arrived, Mr Keane slid off his seat and he asked him why he had taken his seatbelt off.

He alleged Mr Keane turned around and struck him in the face and the couple left.



THrown

In evidence, Lucid said the taxi driver accelerated and braked suddenly, causing Mr Keane to be thrown to the floor of the wheelchair-accessible cab.

She said she herself was "gripping on for dear life". The defendant said Mr Keane then had a panic attack and went into a "disassociated" or "zombie" state and left the cab.

She said she felt she had a duty of care to him because he had been her dinner guest at the King's Inns and she followed him to try to calm him down.

The court heard gardai returned her money and mobile phone, which had been in Mr Keane's jacket pocket. In cross-examination she said she had not had much to drink because she only had one kidney.

Mr Keane told the court he forgot to put his seatbelt on and started having a panic attack when Mr Byrne began driving "unsafely". He said it was the fourth time this had happened since he was in a road traffic accident. He jumped out of the taxi and walked away to get away from the crowds of people on the footpath.

aphelan@herald.ie


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