Byline: Claire Gorman
PASSENGERS are being put at risk because of the high number of taxi drivers with a criminal record, including for the rape of young girls, it was revealed last night.
Many also have unsafe cars.
The dangers came to light in a Prime Time Investigates documentary. A survey showed that one in seven drivers holding a licence has a criminal conviction, about 6,000 of the 42,000 licensed drivers.
Gerry Hutch, who had been known as the Monk and whose record stretches back many years, is proof that having a criminal conviction doesn't prevent you holding a licence. His nephew, Jonathan Hutch, has convictions for handling stolen property, larceny and traffic offences relating to his taxi. One worried Assistant Garda Commissioner, Martin Donnellan, called on tighter regulations for the industry. He said: 'I believe that all taxi drivers should be fingerprinted as part of getting their licence.' The report focused on Sean O'Brien, the man at the centre of the X case, who was jailed for raping a 14-year-old girl. On release from prison, he applied for and was granted a taxi licence. He got around the system by not disclosing his previous convictions and using a different address.
Within 18 months, O'Brien had sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in his taxi and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. …