Woman fined after stand off with gardaí and customs officers
A Drumkeen woman who locked herself in her car for an hour and a half after she was stopped by customs officers has
been fined €3,500.
Hairdresser Sharon Magee was stopped by customs officers at Dooballagh outside Letterkenny driving a northern registered BMW car on September 9th, 2009.
When asked where she was living she told customs officers she had a house in Mount Carmel Heights in Strabane, Co Tyrone on which she was claiming tax relief on the mortgage.
However customs officer Wendy McIntyre said she was not satisfied that was where Ms Magee was living and told her she was detaining her car.
Ms Magee then said she was not getting out of her car despite being told she would be charged with obstruction.
She then phoned her brother Charlie Magee who arrived with another man and they began abusing the customs officers.
Another customs officer told Letterkenny District Court that Mr Magee had been very abusive and had even threatened him.
"He told me ‘I know you and I know where you live. I'll sort you out. Plenty of others have been sorted out.'
"I took off glasses because I thought I was going to be hit - it has happened to me before.
"He left and said he didn't care if he we got 40 hardai. He also told the driver not to give us keys and not to get out of car," said the customs officer.
When the Garda arrived, Ms Magee was again asked to get out of the car but refused and was warned she would be charged with obstructing customs officers.
She left the scene of the stand-off at 11.33am - almost an hour and a half after first locking herself in her car. Ms Magee said she was living in Strabane at the time but was building a home in stages in Trentabuoy.
Solicitor Michael Shiels said his client had always co-operated with customs officials and had produced
a huge dossier of evidence to prove she was living in Co Tyrone.
However he said each time she went to meet them by appointment, she was asked for more and more information.
"It got to the stage that they were asking her for shopping receipts.
"She produced everything she was asked of by the Revenue but each time they asked for more," said Mr Shiels.
He added that as far as he knew someone who lived in the North was allowed "one bite at the cherry" when bringing a car into the Republic of Ireland.
Customs officer Wendy McIntyre agreed that someone who had lived in the North for six months could bring a car into the south and not have to pay Vehicle Registration Tax on it.
Judge Seamus Hughes found Ms Magee guilty and said there was an aggrivating factor in bringing someone else to the scene. He fined her a total of €3,500.