Covert police operation used to identify man who did not pay £114 taxi fare
A 23-year-old man who made off without paying a £114 taxi fare was identified as the culprit in a covert police operation.
Patrick McDonagh, of Sallys Wood, Irvinestown, then admitted the offence and was sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for two years.
He was also order to pay the driver £114.
It was the second time in a month that McDonagh has appeared at Fermanagh Court charged with making off without paying a taxi fare.
A prosecutor told the court that at 12.20am on April 9, a taxi driver contacted police to say a customer had made off without paying a £114 fare. He gave a description of the man and said he had dropped him off at Fairgreen, Irvinestown.
On June 11, police arrested McDonagh in relation to a separate matter but also in relation to this offence. He denied it was him and declined to take part in a Viper identification process. However, police mounted a covert Viper operation during which McDonagh was positively identified by the taxi driver.
McDonagh then admitted to police: "I did do it, yea. I apologise for that and I'll get that man his money."
Defence solicitor, Mr. Tommy Owens, said McDonagh was unemployed and had the money in court. On the day of the offence he was going to collect money from a man and had no intention of making off without paying the fare but the man wasn't there.
District Judge Liam McNally asked, if McDonagh was genuinely sorry, why didn't he tell the police he was the man in the taxi.
Mr. Owens replied that McDonagh was being interviewed by police about another matter at the same time and "took the wrong option".
Last month McDonagh was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years, for failing to pay a 100 euro taxi fare for a ride from Letterkenny to Irvinestown.
He would have been in breach of that sentence and facing jail but for the fact that the offence dealt with this week was committed in April and pre-dated the September case, which was for an offence committed in July.
The District Judge told McDonagh: "You are very fortunate you are not going straight to prison today."