A man who refused to get off an early morning bus bound for Dublin Airport after his travel credit card was rejected has been fined a total of €400 by District Court Judge Seamus Hughes.
Declan Lynch, of 35 Ardleigh Vale, Mullingar, Westmeath, was not present in court last week to face two charges under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 stemming from an incident at Longford Bus Station on December 17 2017.
Giving evidence, bus driver Shane O’Neill said he was operating a Dublin Airport service as he pulled into Longford Bus Station shortly after 2am.
Mr O’Neill said he was well accustomed to running the rule over the likely mannerisms of prospective passengers and was immediately struck by the appearance of the accused.
He said once Mr Lynch got onto the bus he attempted to hand over a Leap card.
When Mr O’Neill attempted to tell Mr Lynch the card was not applicable to expressway services a disagreement ensued.
“After all the passengers were loaded at that point I said the card won’t work and put up an argument I was wrong; that everything was wrong basically, except him.
Mr O’Neill said the defendant informed him he was destined for Mullingar, telling the driver “by hook or by crook he was travelling on my bus”.
The driver added: “I told him it was not my job to prove the card didn’t work. I was very reasonable with him.”
Mr O’Neill explained to Mr Lynch, described as a physical educator by profession, said there was a second bus due to arrive in from Ballina in 20 minutes time where the accused could alternatively try to use the card as a source of payment.
That offer was roundly rejected with Mr Lynch opting to take his seat at the front of the bus.
After refusing to vacate the bus, Mr O’Neill said he was left with no option but to contact gardaí.
In the meantime, passengers on the bus were getting more and more anxious by the hold up with many relying on the service to bring them to the airport for outbound flights.
Garda Jerome Tully said he arrived on the scene a short time later and quickly gave Mr Lynch a Section 8 order to leave the vicinity of the area.
He described Mr Lynch as being “very agitated” and “not cooperative at all” with gardaí when they arrived.
After a brief discussion and attempts to convince Mr Lynch to get off the bus and wait for the next one 20 minutes down the road, the defendant consented, said Garda Tully.
That was until an ill timed intervention on behalf of a number of waiting passengers caused Mr Lynch to stand his ground once more.
“He agreed to get off the bus and as he was getting off the rest of the passengers started cheering and shouting at him,” said Garda Tully, resulting in Mr Lynch sitting back down.
With no more bargaining tools available to them, Garda Tully said he and a colleague had to forcibly remove Mr Lynch before arresting him and bringing him to Longford Garda Station.
Garda Tully explained Mr Lynch’s antagonistic behaviour didn’t end there with the 34-year-old refusing to provide any details to the officer in charge at the station.
“He refused to sign an adult caution and said if he did, his integrity would be diminished,” added the Longford garda.
When pressed about if Mr Lynch had come to garda attention before, he said the Mullingar man had three previous convictions to his name, though none of those were public order related.
In defence, solicitor Frank Gearty said his client was a very knowledgeable man who harboured high political ambitions.
“He has excellent references from previous clients he worked with,” said Mr Gearty.
“He is a very intense man and plans to run for politics in the Seanad in the fullness of time.”
Mr Gearty said drink was not a factor in the charge before his client, saying Mr Lynch was carrying an injury to his side which was preventing him from getting behind the wheel.
Judge Hughes correspondingly fined Mr Lynch €200 for the Section 6 Public Order charge and a further €200 for the Section 8 offence.