herald

Thursday 23 February 2017

Taxi driver convicted of groping passenger is back behind wheel

Augustin Ion
Augustin Ion

A Dublin taxi driver was back behind the wheel of his cab less than a day after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a female passenger.

Augustin Ion (49) was pictured inside his black Mercedes - taxi signage still intact - within 24 hours of a jury convicting him of sexual assault on a young woman he was dropping home from a pub.

Ion was convicted of groping the woman's breasts and holding her head back against the car seat outside her home.

It is understood that Ion was released on a bail condition that he could no longer drive a cab.

Christy Humphries of the National Private Hire and Taxi Association, said that taxi signage along the side of Ion's vehicle meant that he remains legally licensed to pick up passengers, despite the bail conditions.

"Our understanding of the outcome of Thursday's court case was that, as a condition of this man's bail, he would no longer drive a taxi," Mr Humphries said.

"Yet here he is 24 hours later behind the wheel of the vehicle which continues to feature taxi signage. His licence should have been revoked immediately on his conviction," he added.

Revoke

Mr Humphries said Ion's taxi licence should have been suspended when the DPP charged him in relation to the incident and he has called on the gardai to intervene and revoke the licence while also removing any taxi signage that he may still have in his possession.

His latest taxi driver licence is understood to be valid until June 2017.

However, there was nothing to indicate Ion was operating his vehicle as a taxi when he was being photographed.

Ion, who lives at Garrynisk Square, Tallaght, is originally from Romania.

Despite pleading not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman on Thursday, November 20, 2014, Ion has been convicted and released on bail.

He will be sentenced on January 23, 2017.

On the night in question, the woman said she left the bar after five or six drinks at around 11.30pm, taking a taxi to her home - which was five minutes away - as she felt it would be safer than walking alone.

Having told Ion she had a headache, the victim says he began rubbing her neck as they stopped at the traffic lights.

Upon reaching their home, he started rubbing the back of her head, kissed her on the cheek and then grabbed her breasts asking if she wanted to get into the back seat.

He then asked if he could come inside with her.

The woman told him that she had to go, before handing him €20 for a fare that was worth between €6 and €7 and asked for €10 change in return. She noted his name and some of his registration before leaving.

Speaking to gardai, Ion said that the woman did not have any money when they reached the destination and told him to "f**k off". However, he did not report this at the time.

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