NCT inspector fined for passing unworthy vehicle

An inspector at an NCT test centre has avoided a jail term after he was caught passing a vehicle that independent mechanics had earlier deemed as unroadworthy.

Darren Meehan (40) of Delemere, Enfield, Co Meath, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to producing a false National Car Test certificate at the Fonthill Centre, Clondalkin on May 14the, 2011. He has two previous convictions for minor road traffic offences.

He was arrested and charged following a Garda investigation in the wake of an RTÉ Prime Time documentary in 2011.

It was accepted that Meehan checked three faults during a re-test and admitted he had passed the car when it should have failed.

He said he had been asked to pass the car and agreed to do it due to “peer pressure”. Meehan, who had been working at the test centre for a few months, did not get a reward for his role.

Judge Melanie Greally suspended a two and half year sentence on strict conditions after accepting the faults which Meehan checked in the vehicle did not pose a safety risk to other road users.

She accepted Meehan was contrite and remorseful upon arrest and his co-accused, who operated at a higher level, “materially benefited” from the scheme.

Judge Greally said NCT testers had a high level of responsibility and their conduct had broad implications for the wider community.

Detective Garda Sean O’ Riordan agreed with Caroline Biggs SC defending , that Meehan was to check the rear safety belts, the headlights and the imbalance on the rear axle of the brakes. It was accepted the fault with the brakes was “a performance issue” and the faults he checked were “not significant safety issues”.

Det Garda O’ Riordan agreed with Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting that Meehan was “on the very bottom of the rung in terms of his involvement” and other co-accused are due to be dealt with later by the courts.

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