Sixteen toll dodgers fined €174k - but only one shows up in court
Sixteen motorists accused of dodging M50 tolls were hit with fines totalling €174,000 yesterday.
The penalties, ranging from €4,000 to €21,000, were handed down by Judge John Brennan at Dublin District Court.
One goods vehicle used the motorway 895 times without paying, the court heard.
Another motorist was landed with €4,000 in fines for journeys he claimed were done when his brother was using his car.
All except one of the prosecutions featured five sample counts.
They all showed the passage of the vehicles, mostly private cars, on the barrier-free motorway on dates in December 2017 and January this year, as well as proof of vehicle ownership at the time.
On top of the fines, each vehicle owner was ordered to pay €150 per charge in prosecution costs.
Some 20 cases were adjourned to allow those motorists to engage with the National Roads Authority (NRA), and three other car owners had prosecutions withdrawn or struck out having resolved their cases.
Prosecution counsel Thomas Rice BL said the NRA witness who presented the evidence had certificates of ownership, as well as clear downloaded images of the vehicles passing the gantry on the M50.
The court can impose fines of up to €5,000 per charge.
Only one of the 16 motorists whose case was finalised was present. The other 15 did not appear in court, which Judge Brennan described as an aggravating factor.
Father-of-three Casian Bot (27), of Belgree Rise, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, was the only defendant to be present for their hearing.
Bot was not contesting the charge, said defence solicitor Daniel Hanahoe. He was handed fines totalling €4,000.
Judge John Brennan was told he had been the registered owner of the car from June last year until January 2018. His car had a history of 240 passages on the M50 and no payments.
Mr Hanahoe said his client was originally from Romania and has been here since 2007.
He was unemployed and it had been his brother who had been using the car.
The court was told his brother is now living in Germany and was unable to pay.
Mr Hanahoe said it was accepted that his client was the registered owner of the car and that he bore responsibility.