Wednesday 17 July 2019

Van driver who was 'tired and hungry' when he attacked taxi man in parking dispute given suspended sentence

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Declan Brennan

A van driver who said he was tired and hungry when he “lost it” and attacked a taxi man in a dispute over parking has received a suspended prison sentence.

Geoffrey Cotter (48) was taking a lunch break from delivering oil and had parked in a taxi rank when David Carey asked him to move to let him get his taxi into the rank.

Garda Colin Hampson told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Cotter told Mr Carey to “f*** off”. Cotter then got out of his van and told the victim “I'll punch the head of any taxi driver who gets me clamped”.

Mr Carey asked Cotter to go away and that Cotter then “went mental”, the court heard.

He opened the door of Mr Carey's car and began punching him. CCTV footage played in court showed him taking his top off and moving his body into the car.

Cotter of Tubber Lane, Lucan, Co Dublin admitted assault causing harm to Mr Carey at Marlborough Place, Dublin 1 on June 2, 2016.

Judge Martin Nolan said he punched and probably kicked the victim. Mr Carey lost consciousness and suffered soft tissue bruising across his body.

Judge Nolan suspended a two year prison sentence on condition that Cotter be of good behaviour. He also ordered him to pay a total sum of €3,000 over to his solicitor as a token of remorse.

If the victim is unwilling to accept this money Judge Nolan said it will be given to a charity.

The court heard the victim has recovered from his physical injuries but still suffers anxiety about sitting in his car in a rank. In a victim impact statement he said he was out of work for nearly two years because of the attack.

Cotter later went to gardaí and admitted attacking Mr Carey. He was working for the Frylite oil company on the day and had begun work at 6am.

He said he was “absolutely exhausted and very hungry” and was taking a scheduled tachograph break. He parked in the taxi rank and had returned with a sandwich when he met Mr Carey.

He claimed that Mr Carey had shouted at him and called him a “dirty little scumbag” and told gardaí “I just lost it”. Judge Nolan said the attack was unprovoked.

Justin McQuade BL, defending, told the court that Cotter told gardaí he was sorry. He said the attack was totally out of character and his client said “I'm not a violent person at all”.

The father of four has a previous conviction for dangerous driving causing death from 2003. He also has convictions for assault from 2004 and the court heard he is a fully recovered heroin addict who relapsed briefly around that time.

Judge Nolan said that Cotter was a good family man with a good work history who had conquered his past difficulties.

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