Sunday 22 July 2018

Taxi driver accused of biting off passenger's thumb was seen spitting something out afterwards - court hears

Lookman Kareem
Lookman Kareem
Darren O'Connor

Conor Gallagher

A taxi driver accused of biting off part of a passenger's thumb was seen spitting something out afterwards while he had blood on his mouth, a trial has heard.

Lookman Kareem (48) is alleged to have committed the assault after the passengers in his taxi began laughing at his first name.

Today the trial heard that Mr Kareem alleged afterwards that the complainants were the aggressors and had racially abused him before the incident. He denied knowing how one of the alleged victims lost the top part of his thumb.

Mr Kareem of Glenvara Park, Knocklyon, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Darren O'Connor and of assaulting Noelle Donohue at Rathmines on December 22, 2013.

Daragh Valentine told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that he was driving through Rathmines when he saw a scuffle. He stopped his car and got out before seeing Mr Kareem spit “something” out of his mouth. He said he had no idea what this was at the time but another man at the scene was screaming “my finger.”

He said Mr Kareem had blood around his mouth but Mr Valentine said he didn't know who's blood it was. Mr Valentine said he helped the screaming man look for the missing part of his thumb and suggested it be put on ice.

Garda Gavin Kelly said he interviewed Mr Kareem the month after the incident during which the accused said he had been told to go back to “his own country” by the passengers.

He said he picked up a group on Georges Street and that they were drunk and shouting loudly.

The accused told gardaí one of the female passengers saw his driver ID sign and said “I can't fucking believe his name is Lookman”.

She took the ID and passed it around to the other passengers while they took pictures on their phones, he said. The male passenger said, “That will probably go on Facebook”.

Mr Kareem said he told them they weren't allowed handle his ID and they replied, “This is our country, we can say what we want, we can do what we want. Go back to your own country if you don't like it”.

He said one of the females said that she didn't believe his name was Lookman and accused him of being a “dodgy driver.” He said the people in the back of the taxi said they weren't going to pay and one of the females grabbed his ID. He said the male alleged victim leaned across to him and said, “I'm not fucking paying you, you better go back to where you're from”.

Mr Kareem alleged he was then dragged out of the taxi by three of the passengers who punched and kicked him while he was on the ground. He said the male punched him to the head and jaw while some passers-by, including a man dressed as Santa Claus, tried to stop it.

He said he didn't know how the alleged victim lost the top part of his thumb and denied biting it off. When Garda Kelly put it to him, “Lookman, you were seen spitting something out”, the accused responded that he “didn't know anything about it.”

The trial has reached its closing stages and the jury are to begin deliberations tomorrow/today (FRI) after being addressed by Judge Patricia Ryan.

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