Court grants Hutch right to become taxidriver
Source - Irish Times -
Dubliner Mr Gerry Hutch (38) yesterday won a court battle to become a taxi-driver after gardaí said he was now a tax-compliant citizen.
The High Court was previously told that gardaí suspected Mr Hutch was the leader of a criminal gang responsible for a £1.7 million heist in 1997 and a £3 million robbery in 1996. Mr Hutch - known as The Monk - had appealed a decision of the carriage office to refuse him a taxi licence.
Recently, he made a £2 million tax settlement with the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), which had assessed him on the basis of a number of properties he owned in Dublin city and other income.
Yesterday, Dublin District Court heard he applied for a taxi licence in 1999 and was interviewed by the head of the carriage office, Supt Liam Collins, in July of that year. Supt Collins said he was in possession of a report from the CAB and he was also aware of "public disquiet" over Mr Hutch being "a notorious member of the criminal community".
Insp Phillip Ryan, an officer with CAB, said he had prepared that report and at the time Mr Hutch had been served with a tax assessment as a result of investigations since 1996 into the proceeds of "certain robberies in Dublin city in 1987 and 1985". He was found to be in possession of income on which he was assessed and taxed.
"At the time he applied for a taxi licence he was not compliant and it was refused. Now, however, he is fully tax compliant and has no outstanding liabilities to CAB," Insp Ryan said.
Mr Hutch, of Clontarf, Dublin, told the court that he had come to "a full and final settlement" with the Revenue Commissioners and CAB. He had no outstanding liabilities.
He was unemployed and as he had left school early and the only skill he had was driving, he now wanted to work as a taxidriver. "The only qualification I have is a full driving licence and I like driving."
He told Judge Terence Finn it was his intention, if he got his licence, to concentrate full time on taxi-driving. "That would be my first choice, the only other thing I could do would be a labourer and I don't think I can make much money from that."
Supt Collins, of the carriage office, said Mr Hutch's last criminal conviction was in 1983 and it was not practice to take something dating back that length of time into account.
The only other issue in relation to Mr Hutch was his tax affairs and he was now satisfied they were in order. Mr Hutch would only need to pass an exam on his knowledge of the Dublin taxi-meter area in order to obtain his licence.
Judge Finn said in view of the fact that the circumstances had changed since he first made the application and his affairs were now in order, he was upholding Mr Hutch's appeal.
Afterwards, Mr Hutch, dressed in a dark suit, yellow shirt and tie, said he was "happy enough" with the outcome. He said he intended to drive the taxi himself as soon as he could get a car on the road.
"I haven't been involved in crime," he told reporters. "I just had a bit of a tax problem like several other people . . . it's all over."