THE family of taxi driver Moses Ayanwole have been left "devastated" after he lost his battle for life as gardai remain 'confident' of getting a manslaughter conviction.
The 41-year-old dad-of-one died after being assaulted on Dublin’s Pearse Street in a row over a taxi fare.
Gardai are still investigating the exact circumstances that led to his death with sources saying they are hopeful of securing a manslaughter conviction.
Mr Ayanwole, who is originally from Nigeria, lived with his wife and 12-year-old son in Hartstown, west Dublin.
His close friend Ekundayo Omoniyi told the Herald: “We are devastated. This will really upset all his friends and colleagues. I was very close to him so I can't really believe it but when you are on life support, there is always a very small chance he won't make it.
“We want to raise this, what happened to him was wrong and it will happen again to someone else. There is so much abuse for taxi drivers – we receive it all the time.”
One line of inquiry is that the taxi driver was the victim of a race attack sparked by a dispute over a taxi fare.
A 25-year-old man who is the chief suspect in the case was released from garda custody on Tuesday after being picked up by detectives less than 24 hours after the assault, which happened at 12.30am on Monday.
A source close to the family said the death has left his wife Olusola (37) “distraught”.
The source said: “We have a situation now where a wife has lost a loving husband and a son has lost his father, the family needs to know exactly what happened. Olusola is distraught, she's inconsolable.”
Mr Ayanwole was punched in the head by a man in his taxi and fell heavily on to the ground as his taxi was parked on Pearse Street near the Erne Street junction in the centre of the capital.
It is believed that a large group of people hailed the taxi, but the victim told them he could not take them all. There
was a brief discussion and the group got out of the car and flagged down another taxi.
But one man stayed behind. He exchanged words with the taxi driver as he was leaving. Mr Ayanwole was punched and fell.
Sources say it was the impact of the fall that caused him his devastating injuries.
Mr Ayanwole was initially conscious after the attack but had horrendous injuries and medics put him in an induced coma in a desperate attempt to keep him alive.
Doctors in St James's Hospital decided not to transfer him to Beaumont Hospital, which specialises in head injuries, because of the seriousness of his injuries.
The chief suspect was quickly identified and he was arrested in a pub close to where the attack took place.
“The culprit was very drunk when the assault happened. The attack involved a single punch – there seems to have been no intent to murder the victim but it will be up to the DPP to decide what charges he should face.
“He comes from a good family and has barely ever been in trouble before – this case is very tragic,” a source added.
John Usher, President of the Irish Taxi Federation, said today that the death will spark fear in all taxi drivers.
“Unfortunately, it's very seldom a week goes by that there isn't some sort of incident involving a taxi driver.
“They are out there. They are alone at night time and some of these attacks are vicious.
“And I think taxi drivers nationwide will fear for their safety after they hear what happened to Moses.”