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01 Jul 2022

LATEST: Taxi driver had over €100k hidden in secret compartment in VW Passat

Overcharging accounted for nearly half of complaints to taxi regulator

FILE PHOTO

A taxi-driver who was caught concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct in a secret compartment in his car has been jailed for 18 months.

Vincent Kelly (37) of Dundaniel Road, Kilmore, had previously pleaded guilty to money laundering at his address on January 16, 2021. He has four previous convictions for road traffic offences.

Passing sentence today, Judge Melanie Greally acknowledged Kelly had taken “significant steps” towards rehabilitation, but that the nature of the offence also required a general deterrence.

The judge noted that the money, €112,000, had not been for the defendant's use and Kelly had acted as a courier in this instance. His vehicle had been modified and a significant amount of cash had been recovered by gardaí.

Noting that Kelly had co-operated with gardaí and shown remorse Judge Greally suspended the final 18 months of a three-year jail term. She also made orders for the confiscation of the taxi and a Rolex watch.

She said Kelly had been dealing with cocaine and gambling addictions and these would have also motivated his behaviour at that time. She noted that he has taken steps towards rehabilitation.

Judge Greally said Kelly was in full-time employment since May and that several character references had been submitted for Kelly, including from Kilmore Football Club.

At an earlier court date, Garda Lorraine Brennan told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that on foot of confidential information, gardaí obtained a warrant to search Kelly's house which they executed on the date in question.

During the search gardaí noticed the backseats of a taxi in the driveway would not move fully forward and Kelly told them there was a mechanism for opening a hidden compartment in the car.

Kelly turned the car on, pressed a button beside a steering wheel and inserted a metal rod into the cigarette lighter, which caused a secret compartment to open inside of which was a bag of money.

Gda Brennan told the judge that the secret compartment was not a standard feature of a VW Passat and that the car had been customised.

The garda agreed with Ger Small BL, defending, that her client had no proprietary interest in the money and that it is accepted he was moving the money at the behest of others.

Gda Brennan agreed with counsel that her client had difficulties with cocaine and gambling at the time. She agreed that due to Kelly now being on the radar of gardaí, he is no longer useful for this type of offending.

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