Fake taxi busted over 'cheap runs' to Dublin Airport
A grandfather, who operated an illegal taxi service offering cheap runs from Carlow to Dublin Airport, has avoided €10,000 in fines.
Former grocer Bogdan Krzyanski, 65, who is from Poland but now living in Riverview, Tullow, Co Carlow, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to two counts of breaching the Taxi Regulation Act on November 24 last.
He admitted not holding a small public service vehicle (PSV) licence and using a car which was not licensed to be used as a taxi.
He was prosecuted following a joint investigation involving gardai and the National Transport Authority (NTA), Judge John Brennan was told.
NTA compliance officer Anthony Carey told the court that Krzyanski had advertised in Polish in a shop, offering runs from Tullow to Dublin Airport.
He booked Krzyanski and a plain-clothed garda accompanied them as they travelled to the airport.
When they reached the destination, Mr Carey asked how much he owed.
Krzyanski told him the charge was €60, which was handed over.
Mr Carey then identified himself as an NTA official, and the garda translated into Polish.
He questioned Krzyanski as to why he was operating without a PSV licence.
Krzyanski stated that "I was let go from my job", and that he was not entitled to social welfare.
The car belonged to his son-in-law and he did not know it was illegal, he claimed.
The €60 was returned but each charge before the court carried fines of up to €5,000.
Pleading for leniency, his solicitor Marcin Szulc told the court Krzyanski came to Ireland last year and before that he had been a grocer for 35 years but went out of business because of supermarkets.
He moved to Ireland to be with his daughter and had found some work but was let go after a couple of months.
He then started using his son-in-law's car on the premise that in Poland it was legal to offer point-to-point carriage without needing a taxi licence. He has not done it since and recently turned down a request to hire him to drop someone to the airport.
He has also found another job as a general operative but is of limited means, Mr Szulc asked the court to take into consideration.
Judge Brennan said it was clear the offences were very serious and members of the public were not protected.
He noted Krzyanski had no prior criminal convictions and he took into account that he had been an active man who had thought it was a way to make money. That was not mitigating but put some context to it, he said.
He also accepted he had no intention to carry on doing this.
He ordered him to pay prosecution costs of €200 and, sparing Krzyanski the fines as well as recorded convictions, he applied the Probation Act.