Tuesday 21 November 2017

Manslaughter trial hears man punched taxi driver in dispute over fare

William Keegan
William Keegan

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Dublin man accused of a taxi driver’s manslaughter told gardai he threw a punch to avoid being hit over a dispute about a fare.

William Keegan (27) said in interview that he and four others had decided to get a cab from a Pearse Street pub into the city centre, but taxi driver Moses Ayanwole wouldn’t take five passengers. Mr Keegan said he was left behind in the car as the others in his group jumped out and immediately got a different cab.

He said he thought Mr Ayanwole was pursuing him across the road after he got out of the car because he wanted money for a fare, even though the vehicle hadn’t moved.

“If I didn’t hit him, he would have hit me. He was not getting out of the taxi for nothing,” Mr Keegan told gardai.

The accused of Pearse House, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of 41-year-old Mr Ayanwole on Pearse Street, Dublin on November 23, 2011.

Detective Garda Mark Looby told Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that Mr Keegan asked about Mr Ayanwole’s age and family during interview. Det Gda Looby explained that Mr Ayanwole had still been alive when the accused was questioned.

He said Mr Keegan told him: “I’ll say a prayer. I hope he pulls through.”

The accused, a qualified plumber, said he had been at the Padraig Pearse pub from about 4pm on Sunday November 21, 2011 after winning some money on a football bet. He said watched a game with friends and had planned to visit his girlfriend’s parents with her that evening, but they weren’t home.

He said he and his friends later decided to take a taxi into the city centre. The group hailed Mr Ayanwole’s taxi, but the taxi driver refused to take them.

Mr Keegan described to gardai how he was left in the back of the taxi and as he got out told the driver to “f*** off” because the car hadn’t moved.

“Then one bleeding box and I legged it,” Mr Keegan said.

He continued: “I’m not a fighter. I have not fought since playschool, it’s not my character.”

Det Gda Looby said Keegan told him he went straight home to bed and was drunk after about seven or eight pints of Budweiser consumed that day.

The accused told gardai he couldn’t remember the whole incident the following morning and admitted he probably should not have gone back to the pub.

He said: “The reality is this is killing me. Two lives ruined over something stupid.”

Det Gda Looby agreed with Remy Farrell SC, defending, that his client had been emotional during the interview and that he had gesticulated how he had punched Mr Ayanwole with his right hand.

The detective further agreed that if someone punches with their right hand it usually connects with the left side of a face.

Another garda told Mr Coffey that he arrested Mr Keegan in the Padraig Pearse pub in the early evening on November 21, 2011.

Garda Damien Duffy said the accused was intoxicated and got very upset and overwhelmed before getting into the patrol car.

Gda Duffy agreed with Mr Farrell that there was a clear distinction between someone obstructing arrest and someone being overwhelmed.

An eyewitness, student Fionn Cooper, told Mr Coffey that he and a friend had been walking along Pearse Street after a night out when he saw a taxi stopped outside a pub. He said a backseat passenger got out of the vehicle and the driver followed.

Mr Cooper said he thought the driver tipped the passenger on the shoulder before the passenger immediately turned around and struck the driver, who fell back and hit his head off the ground.

Mr Cooper told Mr Coffey that he saw the accused man walk quickly away up Erne Street.

The witness and his friend stayed with the taxi driver until an ambulance arrived. The driver remained unconscious for about five to ten minutes, but then came to and started throwing up.

Mr Cooper told Mr Farrell that he saw Mr Ayanwole with his hands raised to get the attention of the accused, who was walking away. 

The trial continues before Judge Desmond Hogan and jury of six men and six women.

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