Taxi driver Noel Pearse was waiting to collect students at the University of Limerick
A LIMERICK taxi driver who denied telling a garda that he should be “prosecuting the blacks” and not him has been convicted of breaching a taxi driver code of conduct.
A taxi driver of 10 years, Noel Pearse, 55, of Ballydoole, Pallaskenry, appeared before Limerick District Court on foot of a number of summonses including, failing to produce a driving licence; failing to behave in a civil manner while in charge of a public service vehicle; and failing to wear a seat belt.
Under Article 52 (b) of Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicle) Regulation Act, 1963, all drivers of public service vehicles (PSV) must behave in a civil, orderly, and respectful manner.
The court heard gardaí signalled to Mr Pearse, and a number of other taxi drivers to move away from an unauthorised taxi rank on September 9, 2014 at around 12.22am.
Garda Jeffrey Kenny said all the drivers but Mr Pearse moved out of the area. After approaching Mr Pearse, and asking him to move on, he claimed the defendant “became abusive” and told him he was “waiting for a fare”. He also claimed that he threw his taxi card on the dashboard.
Garda Kenny said Mr Pearse told him he should be “prosecuting the blacks” and not prosecuting him, and told him to “f**k off” on a number of occasions. He then drove at “at speed”, without wearing a seatbelt.
A fixed penalty notice was issued for not wearing the seatbelt, which wasn’t paid.
Mr Pearse denied all of the allegations. He said he had been collecting a group of 15 Spanish students in two trips in his Volkswagen Transporter van and was waiting to collect the second group when stopped by gardai.
However, Garda Kenny said he checked Mr Pearse’s phone and the last call was at 4.50pm the previous day.
Taking to the witness box, Mr Pearse said he had been working since 7pm or 8pm that evening and that there were in excess of 5,000 students looking for taxis.
“I took half of the 15 Spanish students first and went back to collect the rest. I apologise unreservedly to him [the garda]. I got frustrated and used the F word when the taxi card fell down. I didn’t used the line about the blacks, but I asked him if he was going to move others on.”
Mr Pearse’s solicitor, Darragh McCarthy, said the defendant was “feeling unwell” on the night, and that this “may have accounted for his conduct and demeanour”.
He said his client is a person of good character and has no previous convictions. However, Garda Kenny told the court that he has two previous convictions – one for speeding and another for breaching a barring order.
Judge Mary Larkin convicted and fined Mr Pearse €250 for failing to behave in a civil manner.
She also fined him €120 for failing to wear a seat belt and took into consideration the driving licence summons. She warned him that he “needs to learn to keep a civil tongue”.