A BARRISTER representing the National Transport Authority (NTA) sought to have a fine imposed on a Skibbereen woman who drove a taxi without a licence.
Judge James McNulty had, at a previous sitting of Skibbereen District Court, indicated that he would convict Teresa Connolly of 11 Mardyke Park of driving without insurance on Christmas Eve 2018 and that two NTA offences of driving a taxi without a licence would be marked proved but ‘taken into consideration.’
However, Jack Nicholas, a barrister – instructed by the firm of Coughlan White in Newbridge, who are the solicitors for the NTA – asked that a fine be imposed.
The barrister reminded the court: ‘These are Class A fines and are the most serious matters that can be brought by the National Transport Authority.’
Colette McCarthy, solicitor for the accused, appealed to the judge to stick with his original decision and to accept the €500 for no insurance.
She explained that her client’s partner is fully licensed and that she was merely helping him to bring ‘loyal customers’ home on what was, understandably, a busy night.
Ms McCarthy said most of the customers were taken free of charge but the sum of €100 had been paid during the course of the night before the offence was detected by Gda Thomas Brosnan at Townshend Street in Skibbereen.
Ms McCarthy informed the court that her client is dyslexic and that she found it difficult to pass the written theory test needed to obtain a public service vehicle licence. Nevertheless, she persisted and has since passed the test.
She said her client wants to ‘put matters right’ and an NTA offence might cause her to lose her chance to get a taxi licence, whereas a fine for no insurance might just mean a higher insurance premium.
Bearing in mind that the accused has no previous convictions, Judge McNulty said he would not impose ‘a double whammy.’
The judge convicted the accused of driving without insurance and fined her €500, but he marked the NTA offence ‘proved but taken into consideration.’
He said he was doing so on the basis that Teresa Connolly had come to court to pay her fine in full and the fact that she has ‘taken significant steps to regularise her situation.’