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Drivers fined almost €120,000 in crackdown on M50 toll dodgers

Fines ranging from €9,000 to €16,000 were handed down to 10 motorists yesterday.

File photo of toll booth
File photo of toll booth
Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

MOTORISTS ACCUSED OF dodging M50 tolls were hit with fines totalling almost €120,000 yesterday.

Fines ranging from €9,000 to €16,000 were handed down to 10 drivers by Judge John Brennan at Dublin District Court. Three of the defendants had “goods vehicles”, while the remaining seven were in private cars including a taxi, the court heard.

None of the defendants whose cases were finalised attended their hearings or contacted the National Roads Authority (NRA), which Judge Brennan described as an aggravating factor. All of the prosecutions featured five sample counts.

They showed the passage of the offending vehicles on the barrier-free motorway on dates in December 2017 and, in one case, February and March this year, as well as proof of vehicle ownership at the times they were driven on the motorway.

On top of the fines, which added up to €118,000, each vehicle owner was ordered to pay €750 in prosecution costs. The judge said the fines must be paid within six months.

Some 14 cases were adjourned to allow those motorists engage with the NRA. One other car owner had his prosecutions withdrawn or struck out, having resolved his case.

Prosecution counsel Thomas Rice BL, instructed by Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors, said the NRA witness who presented the evidence had certificates of ownership, as well as clear downloaded images of the vehicles using the M50.

The court can impose fines of up to €5,000 per charge.

€13,000 fine for five unpaid trips

Goods vehicle owner Robert Martin, with an address at Rossfield Avenue, Brookfield, Tallaght, Dublin, was fined €10,000 after he was prosecuted for five journeys on the motorway in February and March 2018. The toll for a goods vehicle was €3.90.

The court heard that he was the registered owner of the vehicle at the time. Judge Brennan was told the vehicle had a history of 190 M50 journeys, of which just two were paid for in January.

Lisa Sheppard, with an address at The Old House, Aughfarrell, Brittas, Co Dublin, received fines totalling €12,000 for five unpaid trips on the motorway in December. The court heard that she was the registered owner of a private car which had a history of 264 M50 journeys but the toll had just been paid twice.

Adekunie Bello, with an address at Burnell Court, Northern Cross, Malahide Road, Dublin, was fined €13,000 for five unpaid trips on the motorway in December. Judge Brennan heard that the defendant’s car had a history of 203 unpaid M50 tolls. However, Bello had paid for 371 other journeys on the motorway but the last payment was received in December 2016, the judge was told.

Francis Carroll, from Mangerton Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12, was fined €9,000 on five sample counts. The court heard that the defendant’s vehicle had a history of 135 journeys on the M50 without payment.

Marie McDonagh, with an address at Cluain Airne, Lanesboro Road, Roscommon, was the owner of a goods vehicle, the court heard. Judge Brennan fined her €9,000 on her five sample counts. The NRA witness said McDonagh was the registered owner of a vehicle which had a history of 148 unpaid M50 trips.

Catherine McDonagh, of Cara Close, Coolock, Dublin, was fined €12,000 over the five sample charges for not paying for using the motorway in December. Judge Brennan heard that she was the registered owner of a private car which had a history of 239 passages on the motorway, of which only one payment was received.

Kathleen Connors, of Coolaghknock Avenue, The Plains, Kildare town, who was the owner of another goods vehicle, was hit with fines totalling €15,000 for not paying a €3.90 toll on five occasions in December. Judge Brennan heard that the woman’s vehicle had a history of 350 passages on the M50 with no payments.

Gintare Valteryte, with an address at The Waterways, Sallins, Kildare, received €12,000 in fines for five journeys made by his car in December. The court heard that his car had a history of 205 passages without any payment.

John Paul Nolan, of Colliers Wood, Colliers Lane, Portlaoise, Co Laois, was handed fines totalling €10,000 over five unpaid trips on the motorway in December. The judge also noted that his vehicle had a history of 177 passages, of which 37 tolls had been paid, the last one in May 2017. Judge Brennan noted that this motorist had been compliant initially but not for the past year.

Taxi owner, Edward Gibney, with an address at Aspen Park, Kinsealy Court, Swords, Dublin, received fines totalling €16,000 for five sample counts of unpaid M50 trips in December 2017. Judge Brennan noted that his vehicle had a history of 392 M50 trips but just one toll had been paid in 2016, shortly after he became the registered owner of the car.

Standard toll fare

The standard M50 toll for an unregistered private car is €3.10 and must be paid before 8pm the following day or else there is a €3 penalty for having missed the deadline. Motorists have 14 days from the date of issue to pay for the journey and the initial penalty, otherwise a further penalty of €41 is applied.

After a further 56 days there is an additional penalty charge of €103 and, if it remains unpaid, legal proceedings follow with the possibility of a court fine of up to €5,000, as well as a jail term of six-months, or both, per offence.

The registered owner of a vehicle is responsible even if they were not driving the vehicle at the time.

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Tom Tuite

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