Courts

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Men who beat taxi driver over €26 fare avoid jail

Declan Brennan

Published 24/01/2014 | 14:24

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A taxi driver and choir singer was forced to cancel an audition with the RTE choir after two young men punched and kicked him around the head over a €26 fare.

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Feargal MacEoin  suffered “huge mental and physical scarring” as a result of a “gratuitous” attack by James Murphy (20) and Dean Daly (19).

Both men avoided a prison term after Judge Mary Ellen Ring suspended a sentence of three years. She said she had to have regard to their youth and the fact that neither has any previous convictions. She described the assaults as a “shocking and unprovoked attack”.

Murphy of Alderwood Rise, Springfield, Tallaght and Daly of Maplewood Park, Tallaght both pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Alderwood Place, Tallaght on April 28, 2012 and to robbery of a mobile phone, a wallet and cash during the same incident.

Mr MacEoin picked up the men outside a bar by O'Connell Bridge near Dublin city centre and they asked to go to Tallaght. The driver asked them if they needed to stop at an ATM but the men said they didn't.

When they arrived at their destination one man said they needed to go inside to get the fare from his mother and the taxi driver asked them to leave a mobile phone with him for security.

The pair became aggressive and abusive and Mr MacEoin telephoned the gardai. When the driver tried to restrain one of them, Daly held him in a headlock and started punching him in the face.

He knocked the driver to the ground and both men began kicking him around the head. They continued to shout aggressively at him and took his phone and wallet.

The men fled and threw the stolen items away. They were identified on CCTV footage recorded in the taxi and arrested the same day.

Mr MacEoin was knocked unconscious. When gardai arrived they found him on the ground in a semi-conscious state and bleeding profusely from the mouth.

Some of his front teeth were knocked out and he suffered fractures around the eye area of his face.

He had to get metal plates surgically inserted into his face and told Judge Ring that his singing has suffered as a result of the attack.

He had previously been a member of the RTE choir for over four years and was trying to re-join at the time of the assault. He cancelled an upcoming audition after the assault and failed a later one.

The court heard that Mr MacEoin has also lost €18,000 in earnings since the assault and is now nervous working the taxi at night. His relationship with his children has suffered because he didn't want to talk about what happened to him.

Garda James Ward told Marie Torrens BL, prosecuting, that neither man has any previous convictions.

He accepted that Daly has shown genuine remorse and that this wasn't a premeditated assault.

The court heard Daly comes from a respectable family who are traumatised by his actions. He was extremely drunk on the night.

Sarah Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending Daly, said he co-operated with gardai and helped them retrieve the stolen wallet with all the cash. She handed in a number of “glowing” testimonials including one from former Dublin footballer Paul Curran.

Counsel said her client is now working as a barber in Dundrum.

Ronan Prendargast BL, defending Murphy, said his client is extremely sorry for the attack and is hoping to get a job as an apprentice carpenter.

Judge Ring ordered Daly to pay €2,000 in compensation to the victim over the next year. Daly previously paid €5,000 over as a token of his remorse.

The judge ordered Murphy, who is unemployed, to pay another €500 on top of €1,500 he has already paid.

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