Wednesday 18 October 2017

Taxi driver thought ‘it was the end’ during vicious robbery

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Tom Tuite

A TAXI driver has told a court he thought “it was the end” when he was choked and repeatedly punched by two teenage robbers.

A 17-year-old boy, who has significant mental health difficulties, is the second person to plead guilty at the Dublin Children’s Court to the robbery of the taxi driver on Feb. 25 last year at Comeragh Road, Drimnagh in Dublin.

In a victim impact statement described by Judge John O'Connor as moving, the taxi man addressed the court and rejected the teen’s claim of being sorry.

He described how he picked the pair up outside a pub in Rathfarnham and went to Comeragh Road, in Drimnagh.

“I thought they were going to jump out, that didn't bother me, " he said, adding that he was grabbed from behind by the defendant who was in the back seat of the taxi. 

“I don't have much strength, I have a spinal injury. The other guy in front punch me in the face and head looking for money. I told them I'd give them money. The other [the defendant] had a hold of me by the neck and the arms. Then the other guy got out of the car and he punched me I don't know how many times, he came around my side and opened the door. I had a thing that held the cash, €50 or €60. He hit me across the face.”

“This guy [the defendant] started digging me in the back of my head and punched me. The other guy was still outside with my phone. He wanted my code.”

“I was losing my breath when he said he was going to stab me if I did not give the money. I really thought it was the end I was so frightened. A woman, 50 or 60 years of age, God love her came out of her house with a brush,” he said. The boy and his accomplice fled, he added.

In relation to how it affected him he told the court he has given up night work. “If I could throw the taxi in the Liffey I would now. It wakes me up in the middle of the night. I have to work, I do days now because it is not too bad, I don't do nights any more.”

“It does affect you, it doesn't leave you,” he said.

The youth, who was accompanied to court by his mother, mumbled, "I'm sorry about what happened that night."However, the taxi man rejected the apology telling the teen, "I don't believe that you mean that, not for one minute I know what the two of them were like," he told the court.

In evidence, Garda Simon Halpin said the defendant was sitting in the back while the second youth was in the front passenger seat. When they arrived at Drimnagh, the boy “put his arms around the driver and began choking him and the other youth began punching him”, Gda Halpin said.

This went on for a few minutes until the driver put his hand on the horn to get the attention of the people in the area.

The boy ran but was stopped at Suir Road.

During the robbery, €40 and a €500 iPhone were taken but the phone was later recovered. The victim attended Beaumont Hospital and a medical report was handed in to the court which was also told he has made a full recovery from his physical injuries.

Gda Halpin agreed with the defence that the youth had been under the influence of intoxicants at the time and that drugs had played a role. He had no prior criminal convictions at the time and has not come to Garda attention since, the court also heard.

Solicitor Brian Keenan has said the youth, who was accompanied to court by his mother, has significant mental and learning difficulties. He has been diagnosed as non-verbal and has been getting treatment and medication

On the day of the robbery he had take benzodiazepines and is apologetic, Judge O’Connor was told. He also noted that there was a history of schizophrenia.

The youth had educational difficulties but has finished school and is looking for an apprenticeship now, the court was told.

Judge O’Connor said the taxi man has been traumatised. He remanded the youth on continuing bail to appear again in July for sentencing.

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