| 3.7°C Dublin

'Corminator' wins green diesel appeal

A FORMER taxi-driver, who starred in TV3 reality series Tallafornia, has had his conviction for having green diesel in his BMW car wiped clean.

Cormac Brannigan (30), known as the 'Corminator', of Woodbrook Court, Castleknock, Dublin, was prosecuted by the Revenue Commissioners for an offence under the Finance Act.

But an appeal court judge in Dublin held yesterday that he had not tried to flout the law and had adopted an emergency approach after he had engine trouble and was stranded on the outskirts of Dublin in the middle of the night.

Judge Terence O'Sullivan said he was sparing him a criminal conviction and was striking out the case subject to €2,500 being donated to a benevolent fund for former civil servants who have "fallen on hard times".

Last October, at Dublin District Court, he had been fined €2,500 after he pleaded guilty to having marked mineral oil containing blue dye in his car's fuel tank, at Airton Road Garda pound in Tallaght, on January 10, 2011.

In those proceedings, he had offered to donate €2,500 to charity in the hope that he would be left without a criminal record, but the district court convicted and fined him.

Brannigan launched an appeal of the severity of the penalty and the case was listed before the Circuit Court, in Dublin yesterday.

Donall Johnston, defending, told Judge O'Sullivan that Mr Brannigan wanted to look for work in America but his criminal conviction could hamper his chance of emigrating.

Mr Brannigan had been returning from a late-night fare when his car broke down and there were no petrol stations open. He called his father, a garage owner who has a Hitachi truck which uses green diesel, to come and help him.

His father arrived with a cannister of fuel and they put it in the car but at the time Mr Brannigan was unaware that it was green diesel. On the following day, he contacted his mechanic to arrange to have the fuel drained from his car's fuel tank.

A day later Brannigan was stopped by gardai carrying out taxi regulation checks and they found the cannister of green diesel in the boot of the BMW. His taxi was impounded and tests were carried out on the fuel in his tank.

Brannigan gave evidence at his appeal and told Judge O'Sullivan that he is currently out of work but does not draw the dole and has limited savings.

He explained that the car breakdown was a result of faulty fuel injector and he had made efforts to get it going. After that proved unsuccessful he called his father to bring some fuel for a top-up but he did not know until afterwards that it was green diesel.

Judge O'Sullivan noted that Mr Brannigan has no prior criminal convictions and that he had brought receipts as evidence to show that he had normally bought regular diesel.

He said the TV star "adopted an emergency approach" and "it was not a deliberate attempt to flout the law."

After the case Mr Brannigan said he was delighted with the appeal court's decision.

"I am happy the money is going to charity rather than Revenue," he said, adding that he felt it was unfair that he was prosecuted.