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Taxi driver cleared of grabbing woman

A TAXI driver accused of grabbing a passenger by the wrist as she stood outside his cab, before speeding off and dragging her along the street, has been found not guilty of assault and had the case against him dismissed.

Irish dancer Melissa Crowley, had claimed John Okoronkwo (32) carried out the assault after she tried to find out his identity to make a complaint about his behaviour and driving.

Ms Crowley said she feared she had broken her hip.

Mr Okoronkwo said the assault never happened and alleged that Ms Crowley had racially abused him for no apparent reason before her boyfriend kicked his cab.

Judge Denis McLoughlin dismissed the case, saying he believed Ms Crowley would have been "black and blue from top to bottom" if her version of events was true, but she had "no meaningful injuries".

Mr Okoronkwo, of Lanesborough Court, Finglas, denied a charge of common assault in the incident at North King Street, Smithfield on March 17, 2009.



Hysterical

Dublin District Court heard gardai arrived to find Ms Crowley in the back of an ambulance at the scene at 4.10am. She was "quite hysterical and traumatised" and was being given oxygen by paramedics.

Ms Crowley, who was a student at the time, told the court that she had gone out for a meal with her boyfriend Keith Walsh and they hailed the accused on the north quays.

She claimed when they got out, he shouted abuse out the window at her and she reached in to get a look at his identification to make a complaint to the taxi regulator about his "rude" behaviour. She said he then grabbed her arm and accelerated, dragging her along until she freed herself and hit the ground.

Mr Okoronkwo said he thought Ms Crowley was a "nice girl" when the couple got into his cab and they chatted about the fact that she worked in Starbucks. He said when he dropped her off, she racially abused him and said: "you should go back to your own country if you don't like working over here". He said Mr Walsh began kicking his car, so he drove off.


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