Man narrowly avoids prison for attacking taxi driver

Galway Daily courts Man pulled knife on taxi driver over fare dispute

A man narrowly avoided prison after being sentenced for crashing his car while drunk, and in another incident attacking a taxi driver after refusing to pay his fare.

Mark McKeon (25), of Fana Glas Ballybane admitted to a range of multiple road traffic offences at Galway District Court, along with criminal damage, public intoxication, and assault.

The court heard that on January 25, 2019 Gardaí received a report of an altercation between a taxi driver and a passenger at Rocklands Avenue, Ballybane.

The driver told Gardaí that he brought McKeon to his destination, but when they arrived he did not want to pay the €19 fare.

An argument ensued, and McKeon kicked him in the stomach, knocking him to the ground, and broke a wing mirror off his taxi.

Gardaí found McKeon nearby extremely intoxicated, and he was subsequently arrested. The damage done to the taxi cost €250 to fix.

Also before the court were public order charges from February 10, 2019, when he presented himself at Mill St Garda Station at 4:20am while very drunk.

The final incident before the court occurred on the morning October 13, 2019, when Gardai received a report crashed car in Newcastle.

They found a blue BMW which had mounted the kerb. The driver was still inside the car with the engine running.

Gardai found him to be very drunk, and arrested him. And a urine sample given back a the station returned a result of 240mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine, almost four times the legal limit.

He did not have a licence or proof of insurance on him, and failed to produce them at a garda station within 10 days.

Defence Solicitor Olivia Traynor said that a plea had been indicated as early as February 2020, and that there was €600 compensation in court to be given to the taxi driver.

Her client had alcohol problems, but he is now in a long term recovery programme after rehab in 2020, Ms Traynor added.

Ms Traynor said that her client is holding his hands up, and wanted to convey his apologies to the taxi driver. The injured party did not wish to make a victim impact statement.

Judge Marie Keane said that amount “wouldn’t fill a person’s back tooth” in relation to those events, and that after accounting for repairs to the taxi, there wasn’t much left over.

The judge added that taxis “provide a public service in the dark of the night” and drivers shouldn’t expect to be subject to this kind of abuse.

For the non-payment of the taxi fare Judge Keane handed down a €100 fine, with further fines of €200 for the criminal damage, and €300 for the assault, and gave McKeon four months to pay them.

He was also €300 for being drunk in charge of a vehicle. Judge Keane said that the readings from that day showed a “homicidal level of alcohol” in his system.

The public order charges and failure to produce his licence and insurance were taken into account on his plea.

At the conclusion of sentencing the judge remarked “you should in all honesty be going to jail, and the only reason you’re not is because you’ve done something about your alcohol addiction.”