independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Taxi driver's assault case dismissed due to 'inconsistencies'

WITNESS HAD NO MONEY TO PAY FARE

A 38-YEAR-OLD taxi driver had a charge of seriously assaulting a passenger dismissed against him at Swords District Court last week.

Arunnas Kukenas, Castleview Row, Swords was before the court on a charge of assaulting Neil McTamney causing him harm on Main Street, Swords in the early hours of Wednesday, October 19, 2011. Judge Dermot Dempsey stated that he was dismissing the case as there were too many inconsistencies between the statement made to the Gardaí by Mr. McTamney and his evidence given in court. Judge Dempsey also said that a lesser charge of assault may have been more appropriate than the more serious charge of assault causing harm as the defendant made an admission of pushing Mr. McTamney. A regular customer with Cab 2,000 in Swords, Mr. McTamney told the court that he was struck in the face three to four times by Mr. Kukenas after he had told him he had forgotten his wallet. After having an after work drink in Gibney's in Malahide with friends, Mr. McTamney got a cab back to his apartment in Swords. When he had something to eat, he got a second cab to Wright's in Swords where he said he was ' out for the evening.' Having consumed a total of about five pints and a vodka and Redbull, he accepted that he was 'very drunk' and he got a taxi back to his apartment. Then having had something else to eat, he 'decided for some reason' to go back out again and ordered another cab from Cab 2,000. The cab picked him up in River Valley and when it reached The Old Boro Pub on the Main Street, Mr. McTamney realised that he had no wallet with him. Words were exchanged with the taxi driver as to why he had no money with him and he asked the driver to take him to Wright's where his friends would cover the fare. He said that because of having drink taken, he was a ' bit blurry' on some of the detail of what happened but he could remember being assaulted 'very clearly'. Mr. Kukenas asked him to get out of the taxi at the pedestrian lights opposite the Garda station on Main Street and then assaulted him with three to four punches and kicked him in the face. 'I said this was stupid, this is bulls***. We were opposite the Garda station, there was no need to do what he did to me,' said Mr. McTamney. ' The cab company knew me, this was not the way to deal with it. I was unable to defend myself, I took repeated blows.' Mr. McTamney said that he went on to Wright's and phoned his friends. They came out and brought him to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, as his upper eyelid was split open. However, as there was going to be such a long wait, he went home for a few hours and then went to a VHI Swift Clinic who referred him to the Beacon Hospital where he received a number of stitches to his eyelid. Later that day, he went to Cab 2,000 to pay his fare and then, about 14 hours after the alleged assault, he went to Swords Garda station and made a statement to Garda Li Li. Brendan Foley (BL) acting for Mr. Kukenas said that his client would say that Mr. McTamney had been ' shouting something louder and louder, something about the IRA.' 'He could not understand you, your conversation in the taxi was disturbing and bizarre,' said Mr. Foley. Mr. McTamney responded that he could not recall what was said. When Mr. Foley put it to him that there were inconsistencies between what he said in his statement and in his evidence, he accepted that his statement ' could have been more detailed.' 'I had been up all night, I was viciously assaulted,' said Mr. McTamney in an agitated manner, cutting across Mr. Foley's questions. ' There is no point getting confrontational, just answer the questions,' advised Judge Dempsey. 'I do not remember the words said but I remember being assaulted,' said Mr. McTamney. Mr. Foley then put it to Mr. McTamney that the injuries listed in the medical report indicated that he had received one blow, not three to four. 'You were extraordinarily drunk and extraordinarily difficult to decipher and understand,' said Mr. Foley. 'You got out of the taxi when it was not safe to do so, fell and slammed your face.' Mr. McTamney responded: ' No matter how much drink I had taken, I am very clear about this, that taxi driver assaulted me. He knows what he did.' Garda Li Li confirmed taking a statement from Mr. McTamney and then one from the defendant the following day. She said that she had tried to get CCTV footage but none of the cameras at the garda station and nearby shops covered the area where the incident took place. The state solicitor pointed out that Mr. McTamney was not on trial and he had been very upfront about having alcohol. And she said that he had explained why he had given evidence in court that was not in his statement. Mr. Kekunas said that the fare he would have charged Mr. McTamney would only have been eight to nine euro and if he had been asked to go and wait for his friends to pay the fare, he would have allowed it. During the short five minute drive, Mr. McTamney was 'very drunk, had a strong accent, was talking about the IRA and had his feet up on the back of the seat.' 'He told me to f *** off and opened the door but I still driving,' said Mr. Kukenas. 'I tried to stop him leaving the taxi, he became aggressive. I stopped and came around the back of the car and tried to haul him out.' 'He went down on the ground. When things calmed down I could see he was bleeding from his head,' he said. ' I was annoyed. I wanted to get him away from me and I pushed him so that he would walk away.' 'I pushed him in the face but I did not punch him.'

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