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IrelandCurrent Mr Ireland convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and refusing to pay fare

11:06  13 september  2019
11:06  13 september  2019 Source:   extra.ie

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Current Mr Ireland convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and refusing to pay fare © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

The current Mr Ireland Wayne Walsh has been convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and refusing to pay a fare.

Wayne Walsh, 28, from Caherbrian, Gort, who also played hurling for his local club, appeared before Galway District Court earlier this week charged with assaulting taxi driver, Robinson Isibor, at Parkavara, Mill Steet, Galway, on April 22 last year.

Current Mr Ireland convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and refusing to pay fare © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Wayne Walsh

Walsh was accompanied in court by his father – a retired taxi driver – was also charged with refusing to pay a taxi fare on a pubic service vehicle, during the same incident.

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Walsh initially indicated he would be contesting the charges, but shortly before the hearing was due to begin, he changed his plea to guilty.

A charge of breaching the peace, by engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour on the night, was withdrawn by the State following the guilty plea to the other charges.

Garda Sergeant Aoife Curley said Mr Isibor drove his taxi to Galway Garda Station in Mill Street at 2.52am on April 22 last year and made a complaint that a passenger had refused to pay a fare outside the G Hotel, on the other side of the city.

Garda Linda Woodman went out to the taxi outside the Garda Station and spoke to Walsh, who was sitting in the back seat. He told her he would pay the €20 fare and the Garda saw him searching his pockets for the money. The taxi then left the Garda Station.

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Current Mr Ireland convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and refusing to pay fare © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland Wayne Walsh

The taxi driver returned to the Garda Station later, however, and said he had been assaulted. He said he had been grabbed by the neck while he was driving Walsh back to the G Hotel after they had left the Garda Station.

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He said he had been punched while driving and when he stopped, he was dragged out of the driver’s seat and kicked and punched.

Sgt Curley said the driver had marks on his face when he presented at the Garda Station. Defence barrister Garry McDonald said his client got a taxi to the G Hotel. He had no cash on him but he did have a bank card. He offered to pay if the driver stopped at an ATM.

Current Mr Ireland convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and refusing to pay fare © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

‘It was lost in translation and the taxi driver misunderstood and thought my client wouldn’t pay.

‘His father is a retired taxi driver and the defendant knows well to pay,’ Mr McDonald said.

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Judge Mary Fahy explained to the victim that Walsh had now changed his plea to guilty and there would be no need for him to give evidence under oath. She invited him to tell the court how the assault had affected him.

Mr Isibor said he went to the hospital for treatment and the doctor gave him pain medication.

‘I suffered seriously. My feet were sore. I couldn’t go to work. I had bruises all over my body,’ he replied.

Judge Fahy said that while the court objected to all assaults, it felt taxi drivers were particularly vulnerable.

‘If he (Walsh) didn’t want to pay his fare, he shouldn’t have got the taxi. Assaults on taxi drivers do not happen often.

‘The court feels strongly; a man going about his business and they have a fare that has to be paid,’ Judge Fahy said.

Mr McDonald said his client was not highly intoxicated when the got into the taxi, and that he had no cash on him at the time of the incident but could have got it from an ATM.

Confirming Walsh had no previous convictions, Mr McDonald said in mitigation that the incident had such an effect on his client that he entered Cuain Mhuire afterwards and completed an alcohol awareness course there.

He said Walsh was in the process of becoming a teacher next year.

‘This is not a person suitable to be left conviction-free. The manner of his behaviour is absolutely outrageous,’ Judge Fahy said.

Mr McDonald asked Judge Fahy for leniency and informed the court Walsh had brought €1,000 compensation to court for the victim. Mr Isibor refused the offer. Accepting Walsh had no previous convictions, Judge Fahy convicted him of both offences, fining him €600 for assaulting the taxi driver and a further €400 for refusing to pay the fare. Leave to appeal was granted.

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