Northern Ireland news

Chauffeur company boss had no license to take One Direction star to Belfast show

Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction

A DUBLIN-based chauffeur company boss could face renewed prosecution over taking a One Direction star to a show in Belfast.

Shane Devine allegedly drove a member of the chart-topping boy band to the concert without a licence to operate a taxi in Northern Ireland.

He disputes the claims against him, insisting that he travelled over the border and collected his star fare from a hotel as part of one continual journey in October 2015.

Proceedings against him had been stayed by a district judge as an abuse of process.

But the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that was the wrong outcome, and remitted the case back to another judge to consider a fresh hearing.

Mr Devine, who operates Devine's Chauffeur Services out of the Republic, picked up the undisclosed band member at the Culloden Hotel near Holywood.

Promoters of the One Direction concert had instructed him to take the VIP passenger to the performers' entrance at the SSE Arena.

Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) examiners investigating a complaint about an allegedly unlicensed taxi spoke to him after he made the drop-off at the venue.

Under caution Mr Devine stated that his Mercedes Viano was booked as a continuous service which originated and was to terminate in the south of Ireland, the court heard.

He confirmed that he did not have a Northern Ireland Public Service Vehicle (PSV) or taxi driver's licence, but had all the necessary accreditation in the Republic.

Mr Devine was subsequently summonsed for alleged offences of driving and operating a taxi service without the necessary permits.

During the original proceedings his lawyers requested full details on any surveillance or monitoring carried out on him.

They claimed department officials had been watching Mr Devine on the night in question following a complaint.

The Public Prosecution Service resisted disclosure, asserting public interest immunity (PII) on the intelligence document containing information passed to the DVA.

Appeal judges were asked to consider the case following decisions to refuse the PII application and to stay proceedings against Mr Devine.

They concluded that both determinations had been incorrect.

Lord Justice Treacy confirmed: "We are remitting the case to Belfast Magistrates' Court to be heard by another district judge."

Following the ruling, Mr Devine's solicitor, Denis Moloney, expressed his hope that the prosecution will ultimately be dropped.

He said: "Mr clear instructions from Mr Devine is that he was making a continuous journey in the one direction."

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