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iPhone thief cabbie keeps his licence

A TAXI driver who was convicted of stealing a passenger's iPhone can still operate despite having previous criminal convictions, the Herald can reveal.

Patrick Lyons, of Fortlawn Avenue in Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to taking the phone belonging to a passenger and selling it on.

New legislation that will prevent taxi drivers with certain convictions from working as cabbies will come into effect in the coming months.

The law will tighten-up how Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licences are issued.

Flaws in the current system were highlighted in recent days when it emerged that Lyons (39), who has convictions for theft and driving without insurance, was still able to ply his trade and went on to steal the iPhone from a customer five months later.

The passenger had been charging the phone in the car of Patrick Lyons when he forgot to take it with him when he left the cab.

Using the Find My iPhone app, he later traced it to a phone shop on Parnell Street. Lyons was identified through information from the victim's conversation with him and CCTV footage from the phone shop.

Lyons had previous convictions for offences including theft of petrol from a filling station and driving a vehicle without insurance. He was put on probation for a year when he admitted the iPhone theft charge at Dublin District Court.

Junior transport minister Alan Kelly recently introduced legislation specifically to deal with certain criminal elements in the taxi sector and said: "There are people driving taxis who simply shouldn't be."