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Van attacker thought garda car was a taxi

A YOUNG man who smashed the rear window of a van was caught after he tried to hail a garda car in the belief it was a taxi cab, a court heard.

The vehicle's owner saw Gary Johnson (27) smash the window and get into her van and rang the gardai. It cost her €1,100 to fix the damage, and she lost two days' work while the vehicle was off the road.

Judge John Coughlan imposed a nine-month prison sentence, saying Johnson's behaviour was "disgraceful".

Johnson, of Parkhill Road, Tallaght, was found guilty before Tallaght District Court of criminal damage at Deerpark Avenue, also Tallaght, last May.

The vehicle's owner, Jacqueline O'Hara, said she was upstairs in bed when she heard two loud bangs down the road.

She got out of bed and saw Johnson walk towards her house.


She said she saw him smash the back window of her red Toyota van and get into the cabin and rummage around.

The court heard gardai were alerted, and Ms O'Hara said the defendant tried to flag down the patrol car when it arrived on the scene because he thought it was a taxi.

Gda Aine McCarville said Johnson was walking towards the entrance of the estate when officers arrived. She said he was aggressive and had to be restrained.

Johnson denied damaging the van, saying he was in his cousin's house at the time.

The court heard Johnson has 16 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic matters.

Defence solicitor Jeremiah Breen said his client is a father of one who is currently on a back-to-work scheme.

Judge Coughlan said the incident must have been a frightening situation for the victim.