Friday 23 March 2018

'I'm now afraid of the dark' - Taxi driver lives in fear after passenger held knife to throat

Mr Justice Raymond Fullam was satisfied the woman had exaggerated her symptoms and their connection with the accident. Stock picture (Stock picture)
Mr Justice Raymond Fullam was satisfied the woman had exaggerated her symptoms and their connection with the accident. Stock picture (Stock picture)

Isabel Hayes

A passenger who held a knife to a taxi-driver's throat while he was driving the cab has left his victim in constant fear and “afraid of the dark”, a court has heard.

James Mongan (33) of Carlton Terrace, Poppintree, Dublin pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at Ballymun on July 11, 2016. He will be sentenced in April.

In Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Garda Mark Reay told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that Mongan's victim, a taxi driver of 26 years, was driving through Ballymun when he was flagged down by Mongan, who asked to be taken to St Margaret's.

The pair engaged in “chit-chat” for a few minutes, before the driver noticed Mongan had put his hood up and moved to the centre of the rear seat. As he was still driving, Mongan put a knife to the driver's throat and said, “Give me the money or I'm going to stab you,” Mr Kennedy said.

The driver slammed on the brakes and managed to grip the blade with his hand and pull it away from him. He then grabbed a deodorant can, opened the car door and fell onto the street. When Mongan came out and pursued him, the driver sprayed the deodorant at him while shouting for gardaí.

“It just happened that a garda car was coming around the corner at that moment,” Mr Kennedy told the court. Mongan ran into nearby wasteland and was pursued by two gardaí who caught him when he tripped up. No knife was found at the scene.

The court heard the taxi driver suffered cuts to his fingers from the knife, which required paper stitches. In a victim impact statement read out in court, he said he now felt “vulnerable” after the attack, which left him in fear for his life.

He said he no longer wanted to drive a taxi but, as a 55-year-old man, he felt he didn't have any other skills. “That night plays on my mind,” the statement said. “It's like being a child at times. I'm now afraid of the dark.”

Defence counsel, Emmet Nolan BL, said Mongan, who has 65 previous convictions, wished to offer an “unreserved apology to the injured party for the disgraceful acts he committed.”

“He is deeply remorseful and apologetic,” Mr Nolan said.

He said Mongan had taken cocaine before the offence, was going through a marriage break-up and had attempted suicide twice shortly before the incident. He spiralled into drug addiction after witnessing the murder of a friend six years ago, the court heard.

Mongan, who comes from a Traveller background, left school at the age of 12 and was “practically illiterate”. He had been in custody since the incident, was now drug-free and had started learning to read in prison, the court heard.

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