Patrick Thomas McDonagh, of Sallys Wood, Irvinestown, handed the driver £80 when he appeared at Fermanagh Court and admitted the offence.
District Judge Liam McNally told him: "You are fortunate that you decided to enter a plea of guilty and at long last you paid the fare or you would have been going to prison today for three months."
He suspended the three-month sentence for two years.
A prosecutor explained that around 7.45pm on Monday, July 9, McDonagh took a taxi from Letterkenny to Irvinestown and failed to pay the 100 euro fare. The taxi driver contacted the police and pointed out the house McDonagh had gone into. Officers went in and spoke to McDonagh, who admitted getting the injured party's taxi from Letterkenny. He said he had told the taxi driver he needed to get the money from his brother and when his brother wasn't there, offered him a mobile phone as security.
The prosecutor said the taxi driver did say McDonagh tried to give him a mobile phone and did say something about paying him.
A defence barrister said McDonagh's intention was to pay the fare and the driver had every right to refuse to take the mobile phone. It was an unsophisticated plan to leave the taxi driver on the side of the road.