Sunday 20 January 2019

Ballymote men caught driving illegal taxis

Two men from Ballymote were caught red-handed driving illegal taxis after a disgruntled legal taxi-driver tipped off the National Transport Authority (NTA).

Sylvester Gilligan (73), of Larkhill, Keash Road, Ballymote and Seamus Hogge (77) of Rathdoony Beg, Ballymote, both appeared before Tubbercurry District Court last Wednesday 25th July.

The men were tried separately but both faced the same charge of driving a car for financial reward without the car or themselves having a public service vehicle licence, on 21st November 2017 on Teeling Street, Tubbercurry.

Compliance Officer with the NTA Eugene McHale told Judge Kevin Kilrane that on the date in question, he was on duty in Ballymote and had "confidential information" that Sylvester Gilligan was driving his car as a taxi without the required licence.

He rang Gilligan and ordered a taxi to Tubbercurry.

He got into the car with Gilligan and they arrived in Tubbercurry around 7pm.

Gilligan charged Mr McHale €20 and was then asked by Mr McHale if he had a public service vehicle licence, to which he replied "no."

"He was fully co-operative and gave me an undertaking he would stop," the witness told the judge.

The court heard Gilligan had no previous convictions and the NTA made no applications for costs against him. Mr William Henry solicitor, defending, told the Judge Gilligan was 73 years old and only used his car as a taxi for "occasional social purposes."

He said his client was happy to give an undertaking to the court never to drive again for financial gain.

"This is highly embarrassing for him in his community," he said.

Judge Kilrane said Gilligan wasn't really driving full time for financial gain.

"There was an element of getting out to meet people," he said, and gave Gilligan the benefit of the Probation Act.

In the second case, Mr Roger Murphy, NTA Compliance Officer, told the court that Seamus Hogge charged him €20 after bringing him from Tubbercurry to Ballymote that day.

Mr Murphy said the NTA would be seeking costs of €300 in his case. Hogge, who has no previous convictions and is 77 years old, walked with the aid of a crutch into court.

Mr William Henry, defending, said Hogge was a bachelor and only drove his car for "social purposes more than financial gain."

Mr Murphy said Hogge was parked outside a pub and "numerous complaints were made by compliant taxi drivers who felt very aggrieved."

Judge Kilrane told Hogge to bring €300 to court on 26th September and he would apply the Probation Act on that date.

Sligo Champion