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20 May 2022

Taxi fare dispute led to arrest of man who had fled Ukraine

Taxi fare dispute led to arrest of  man who had fled Ukraine

Portlaoise District Court

A dispute over a taxi fare resulted in a man who had fled the Ukraine being arrested in Portlaoise. 

Peter McNamara 55, of 37 The Grove, Kilminchy, Portlaoise was arrested at Hillview in Portlaoise on April 18 this year. 

He opted to represent himself in court and when quizzed on why he wouldn’t avail of legal representation explained, “I don’t want the court to incur any costs.” 

The defendant told the court he was pleading guilty to the charges of public intoxication and threatening and abusive behaviour but said, “the incident should never have happened really.” 

Sgt JJ Kirby explained that Gardai had been called to Millview in Portlaoise at 12.50am on the date in question from “a taxi driver who stated he wanted a male removed from his taxi. When gardai arrived they found the defendant drunk and aggressive,” said Sgt Kirby. He said the man has five previous convictions. 

The defendant said “I would like to say Judge that at all times the gardai were very helpful and kind.” He said he and his wife weren’t long back in the country at the time of the incident. They had been out with friends in the Midland Park Hotel “celebrating easter” on the night in question.  

They caught a taxi home and the defendant said, “I asked the driver how much it would be to Kilminchy?” He said “the driver said to me €35 for what should have been a seven or eight euro fare,” he remarked.  He explained that he then told the taxi driver to call the police.

At this point, the defendant said the taxi driver stopped the car and told them to get out. “He grabbed me and tried to pull me out of the car.” He claimed gardai weren’t privy to what had happened prior to their arrival. “I was just so annoyed with this man because he was after manhandling me out of the car,” he told the court.  He said “we simply wanted to get a taxi home and be responsible people.”  He added, “we were going home after a lovely easter dinner with friends.” 

He told the court he and his wife live in Ukraine but “the war started on the 24th and we fled a week later.” He insisted the incident should never have occurred and he thanked the gardai for getting his wife, who he said has limited english, home on the night in question.

Judge Patricia Cronin said “I have listened carefully to what you have said to the court.” She noted the man has previous convictions but said “the majority are what I would term as historic.” She said she would deal with the matter under the probation act. 

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