'I am sorry for what I done' - taxi man who stole from customers stripped of his licence
A taxi driver with a string of convictions for stealing thousands of euro from customers has had his taxi licence revoked.
Patrick Lyons (45), from Ventry Road in Cabra, told the Herald yesterday he was "sorry" for his actions.
He received a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence this month after pleading guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to withdrawing €550 from a customer's bank account after keeping her bank card when she used it to pay her fare last December.
In September last year he had appeared at the District Court on up to 24 counts of taking bank cards and cash from alleged victims who he had picked up as fares.
Lyons had previously stolen a customer's iPhone in 2013 when the customer left it in his taxi.
He claims he has compensated his victims to a total of €4,300 arising from his list of convictions.
However, he was still able to operate as a taxi driver because he appealed a move by gardai to have his licence revoked.
He was back in the District Court yesterday where his appeal was being heard.
Lyons, a father-of-two, told the court that he became a taxi driver in 2000.
He said his life took a turn for the worse when his relationship with his partner broke down and he moved back in with his mother.
"I was having seizures and I wasn't working. I suffered from depression. I was staying in my room and watching telly," he told the court.
"I started going to the local pub in Cabra to interact with people. My lifestyle wasn't great. I got introduced to cocaine in the toilets," he said.
Lyons told the court that he got into debt, and people started coming to his mother's house saying someone he had introduced them to had "done a legger" from the pub with cocaine they were buying - and the money they gave him for it - and that Lyons would have to pay them €700.
Lyons told the court he had been threatened.
"They said they would do damage to me if I didn't pay. I was afraid that I'd be shot," he said.
Then he told how he started stealing from his customers.
"I robbed things to get some of the money up. I stole credit cards from customers," he said, adding that he watched the customers put their Pin numbers into the card reader and then used the cards two or three times to withdraw cash from ATMs.
"I was all over the place. I was constantly getting phone calls. I got beat up a few times," he added.
Lyons said the only way to get the people threatening him off his back was to pay them €10,000.
He said he borrowed €5,000 from his mother, €3,500 from a friend who he rented a taxi from, and came up with €1,500 himself and the debt was paid off by last January.
He said his period of stealing lasted a year from December 2017 to December last year, he had now given up cocaine and alcohol and taken part in a treatment course.
He is still attending counselling once a month.
"I have paid back all the money to the victims and I regularly see the probation officer," Lyons said.
His barrister Niamh Barry asked Lyons to tell the court how he thought his victims would have felt.
He told Judge Michael Coghlan that he "wouldn't like it done to me".
"I shouldn't have done what I done. I know that. I wasn't in a right state of mind. I let my family down and I don't want to let them down any more," he said.
"It'll never happen again if I get one more chance," he added, while close to tears.
Superintendent Tom Murphy, of the garda Roads Policing Unit, put it to Lyons that he had a "long history".
"You have made promises before and given undertakings," he said.
He told Judge Coghlan that Lyons's latest conviction was at the Circuit Court on November 6 where he was given a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for theft from a passenger.
"I won't do it again. I know I done wrong, I've changed," said Lyons.
Supt Murphy said: "I put it to you that you haven't changed."
Judge Coghlan refused Lyons's appeal which means he is stripped of his taxi licence.
"My difficulty is I wouldn't be satisfied that an independent party getting into a taxi would not be putting themselves in danger given the background this man has with undesirable elements," he said.
He added that having a licence to drive a taxi is not a right but a privilege.
Lyons's barrister tried to have a stay put on the revoking of the licence until after Christmas, but this was refused.
Leaving the court, Lyons was asked by the Herald for comment.
"I'm sorry for what I done," he said.