The taxi driver picked the men up from the Town House Hotel, Naas.
Naas District Court heard a story of a local taxi driver who was assaulted while driving his car after he asked three passengers to clarify where they wanted to go.
Taxidriver Samson Samuel gave evidence to Naas District Court last Wednesday, May 16, that he picked up a fare at the Town House Hotel in Naas late on the evening of January 17, 2016.
Three men got into the car and the tallest of which sat in behind him. This man was identified as Thomas Connors with an address listed as Kilcarra East, Vale Road, Arklow.
According to Mr Samuel he was told to drive towards Toughers. However, the three men began to argue over whether to go to Newbridge or to Toughers.
When he asked them to clarify, he was told the keep driving. Mr Samuel said that he refused and said he would turn around and drive them to where he’d picked them up. It was at this point that he was struck from the back seat by the man sitting behind him. And in court he identified the culprit as the defendant.
He was struck on the head, neck and shoulders, with the defendant calling him a “f**king bastard, a black bastard”. He said that the other man in the back seat also struck him.
When the car arrived back to the hotel, the men jumped out of the car and a passerby called Gardai.
Garda Christine Brady gave evidence of her investigation into the case and of obtaining CCTV from the hotel of the three men there celebrating a christening, and how Mr Samuel had identified the defendant.
In the witness box, Mr Connors painted a slighted different picture. He said that the two other men were Christy and Luke Connors, and that it was the latter who sat behind the driver and struck him. Luke, who he said is married to his wife’s sister, does not play with a full deck, he claimed.
“What do you mean by that,” Judge Zaidan asked.
“He’s slightly simple,” the defendant explained.
“You mean he’s mentally challenged?”
“Yes,” the defendant said.
He added that when Luke Connors noted that the taxi driver “was a coloured man, he started mouthing off at him” but that he had told to stop. He said that Luke wasn’t himself that night, and that “anyone would have done him that night”.
The defendant pointed out that he and the other men are members of the Travelling community and that when they talk amongst themselves, it can sound like they are arguing. He said that Luke went to hit the driver, but that he grabbed his hand and tried to stop him.
And he added that when the car arrived back in Naas, Luke had slapped the driver once on the face as he got out and ran away. “It was literally one slap,” he assured the court.
The defendant told the court that Luke Connors had told him that he would take responsibility for the offence and would come into court and speak on his behalf. Since that night Luke Connors has served a time in prison and cannot be found now, by either the prosecution or the defence who had tried to subpoena him.
Representing Mr Thomas Connors, Conal Boyce noted that his client was “the only one of the three who had turned up, in fairness to him”.
Judge Zaidan said he believed that only the taxi driver was telling the truth and that Mr Connors had hoped to pin the offence on Luke Connors who was heading to prison anyway. “He’s come in and told a pack of lies,” the judge said about the defendant.
After some discussion it was agreed that Mr Connors would give Mr Samuel €2,000 by the following day, Thursday. On that day, having handed over the €2,000, he was also fined a total of €1,500.