A Kinlough-based haulier that a judge described as “an unscrupulous fraudster” has been told to come up with €15,000 by this Thursday or face 20 months in jail.
Sligo District Court was told how Edward Jason Sutherland Taylor with addresses at Melvin Fields, Kinlough, Co Leitrim and Rathneeeny, Laghey, Co Donegal had sent his lorry drivers on the road with false insurance certificates for a period of almost four years, from 2015 to 2019.
Those drivers were then prosecuted for driving with no insurance and there were some claims as a result of road traffic accidents.
Those prosecutions against all the innocent drivers, who were all legally represented, were all struck out at Sligo District Court.
Taylor faked the insurance discs at one of his businesses, Total Logistic Solutions, Portnason, Ballyshannon and also had fake Bulgarian insurance discs which did not cover his innocent drivers, the court heard.
He used colouriser, photocopying and computer equipment to make up the false insurance discs, the court heard.
Judge Kilrane complimented the work of investigating Sergeant Gerry Murphy in exposing this highly complex fraud through great diligence and perseverance.
In sentencing the 46-year-old father of four, Judge Kevin Kilrane said the defendant had “hung his drivers out to dry”, and caused them “mayhem and chaos”.
The judge said Taylor was running his business on complete and utter fraud.
“He will do anything to keep his wheels moving,” the judge said.
The judge said Taylor set out to defraud everyone and misled his drivers and gardai.
“Even at this late stage will you please tell the truth.”
The judge said that one of Taylor’s drivers Dean Vance has “suffered grievously” as the defendant did not tell him he had been banned from driving in his absence in Tuam.
Judge Kilrane said there were some third-party claims against vehicles that were uninsured.
Judge Kilrane said the only way that Taylor could avoid 20 months in jail was to come up with €15,000 by next Thursday.
The defendant said he had no money as he had a large tax bill from Revenue and many other creditors.
But Judge Kilrane said that with Taylor’s record of surviving, he had every confidence that the defendant would come up with the cash.
Judge Kilrane said that even today Taylor was still ducking and diving and had not admitted that he had a 2020 4 x 4 vehicle.
Taylor said it was through finance, but the judge said in order to have finance you needed a clear financial record.
The defendant said the vehicle was his partner’s.
Judge Kilrane said he was going to ban Taylor from driving for 12 years.
“You won’t be driving any kind of vehicle for a long time.”
Taylor pleaded guilty to driving a lorry with no insurance at Drumderry, Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo on April 9, 2019.
He also pleaded guilty to exhibiting a colourised imitation of an insurance disc at the same location and date.
He further pleaded guilty to being the owner of a vehicle at Cleveragh Demesne on April 11, 2019 which was used by Dean Vance, that had no insurance.
He also pleaded guilty to using a colourised imitation of an insurance disc on the same date and location.
The defendant pleaded guilty to being the owner of a vehicle which was used by Christopher Gallagher which was not insured on the same date and at the same location.
He also pleaded guilty to using a colourised imitation of an insurance disc on the same date and location.
The defendant pleaded guilty to being the owner of a vehicle that was used by Craig Cullen and was not insured on April 11, 2019 at Cleveragh Road, Sligo.
He pleaded guilty to using a colourised imitation of an insurance disc on the same date and at the same location.
The defendant pleaded guilty to the fraudulent use of a registration mark 10 SO485 on a white Volkswagen Crafter van at Portnason on May 16, 2019.
And he pleaded guilty to being the owner of a vehicle used by John Sheerin that had no insurance on the same date and at the same location.
He also pleaded guilty to being the owner of vehicle used by Dean Vance that had no licence on April 11, 2019 at Cleveragh Road.
The drivers before the court for not having insurance and who all had their cases struck out by Judge Kilrane were; David Smith (31) of Carraclawn, Bunniconlon, Ballina, Co Mayo; Craig Cullen (33) Knockanalteen, Ballymote; Christopher Gallagher (45) of Ashbrook, Collooney; Dean Vance (43) of Ballinacarrick, Ballintra, Co Donegal; Declan Bannigan (57) of Kintogher, Bundoran Road, Sligo; Johnny O'Brien (51) of Riverwalk, Collooney; Patrick Gerard Leonard (56) of Kiernan Ave, Collooney; Paul McTeague (34) of Carricknamohill, Killybegs, Co Donegal; Kyle Fox (27) of Bruach na hAbhainn, Coolaney; Jonathan McCann (32) of Mountain View, Tubbercurry; Dennis Sheerin (48) of Castlegal, Cliffoney and John Sheerin (36) of Woodview House, Castlegal. Charges relating to Carl Lafferty (45) of Navenny, Ballybofey, Co Donegal for being the owner of a vehicle that was driven by drivers who were not insured were also stuck out.
Investigating Sergeant Gerry Murphy told the court he arrested Jason Taylor by appointment on a bench warrant on the morning of the court.
The Sergeant said a report from the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland in 2018 had come to gardai stating the defendant was running two haulage companies, one in Cleveragh, Sligo and the other in Ballyshannon.
There had been a number of claims against the business and its drivers, but its drivers were not insured.
The business had since ceased trading.
Sergeant Murphy said that early in 2019, he had stopped a van driven by Declan Bannigan who was leasing a van from Taylor’s Sligo-based company Nova Point.
The Sergeant took a photo of the insurance and contacted brokers.
They confirmed that it was not one of their certs.
When the Sergeant checked the insurance disc it was found to be Bulgarian.
He later checked the disc with Interpol and Bulgarian authorities and found that the disc was not valid.
The Sergeant said this had aroused his suspicions about the Nova Point Ltd company in Sligo.
The defendant also had another company in Portnason, Ballyshannon Co Donegal called Total Logistics Solutions.
The Sergeant stopped Craig Cullen in Cleveragh on April 11, 2019 and the vehicle was registered to Taylor who used the names Jason Taylor, Edward Jason Sunderland Taylor and one was to Sir Edward Taylor.
“I have not been able to confirm if he is a Sir or not.”
Sergeant Murphy got a search warrant for the defendant’s premises in Sligo and Ballyshannon, and found several insurance certs that had been photocopied and dates were changed. He was putting fake insurance discs on his lorries.
The Sergeant said there was one more disturbing matter.
Dean Vance, who was one of Taylor’s drivers, was banned from driving in September 2018 while in the employment of Nova Point Ltd, Cleveragh, a company of which Taylor was a director.
He was told by Taylor not to worry as Taylor would take care of it.
Taylor never told his driver that he was subsequently banned, the court heard.
Sergeant Murphy added that Taylor had falsely said his business was a PR and Marketing company.
Solicitor for Dean Vance, Seamus Monaghan said his client’s conviction had been set aside.
That was done, and all charges against Mr Vance were struck out.
Sergeant Murphy said that Taylor had led everyone on a merry dance.
The court was told that the business was now well run by Carl Lafferty and another person.
Sergeant Derek Butler told the court the defendant had 25 previous convictions, all were for road traffic matters.
Defence solicitor Tom MacSharry said the defendant was “co-operating fully”, was pleading guilty and was very eager that all the other defendants were not prosecuted.
Mr MacSharry said the Bulgarian insurance policy would have been legal if the companies were resident in Bulgaria, but they were not.
Mr MacSharry said that Mr Lafferty, who was Mr Taylor’s partner, had now taken over the business and matters were being rectified.
Jason Taylor was no longer involved in the business.
He had fallen ill, was in the Acquired Brain Injury Unit in Sligo and there was an appeal by letter from his wife.
Jason Taylor told the court he was “sorry for all the problems in the past.”
Four children who ranged from 25 to 6
He said he was no longer in business and was doing his best to cover debts left by a big liability to the Revenue.
He had no employment.
He was the father of four children who ranged from 25 to 6 and his daughter had health injuries.
The court was told he had “three strokes” and had acquired brain injury.
He admitted falsifying the insurance discs.
Judge Kilrane said there was fiddling of “every description”.
“He was operating a veritable fraudulent office.”
Sergeant Derek Butler put it to the defendant that: “You falsified your brother’s insurance policy.”
Defence solicitor Tom MacSharry told his client that he was “staring jail in the face.”
The defendant said he accepted his situation, and he was now “not driving at all.”
Sergeant Butler said that the defendant had claimed in January 2019 that he had no car, but he was fined €2,000 for driving a car with no insurance.
“I was led to believe I was insured,” the defendant said.
In mitigation Mr MacSharry said these were very serious matters. The solicitor asked the court not to send the defendant to jail.
This was a man who worked hard to build up a business and “lost it all.”
He was not driving or working and had a substantial liability from the Revenue that he may never be able to pay off.
“We are on our knees,” added Mr Macsharry.
It was put to the defendant that he had been driving a Range Rover. “It is gone over a year, “ the defendant replied.
He said he was driving a Seat now, “on finance.”
Judge Kilrane asked the defendant if he got any reward for transferring his vehicle to the “new operation.”
“I got no funds for it.”
“How many vehicles did you transfer?” asked the judge.
He added, “Even at this stage, will you please tell the truth?
“How many vehicles did you transfer if the new owners are truly the new owners?”
The judge added that he did not accept that the defendant did not know the ball-park figure for the vehicles he has discharged.
The defendant said there were other creditors and he had paid them.
The judge asked how much did the defendant get for his vehicles? “I can’t remember,” said the defendant.
The judge said the only way the court would not consider jailing him was if he came up with €15,000 by next Thursday. Otherwise, he will serve 20 months in jail.
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