Man who punched and robbed taxi driver spared jail

A 23-year-old Wexford man facing assault charges spoke of his shame at having punched a taxi driver in his 60s from whom he stole €20 worth of coins.

And defendant John Roche from 41 Liam Mellows also offered an apology to the A&E staff who witnessed his drunken shouting, roaring and spitting.

The father of two was spared jail with some show of reluctance by Judge John Cheatle at the District Court sitting in Wexford.

The court heard evidence from taxi driver Michael Furlong who was struck by the accused at Ferndale on August 3, 2015.

The 62-year-old, now retired from his hackney on health grounds, said he was badly shaken by the incident in which he was punched on the shoulder by the man who took his loose change.

The injured party recalled how he was affected for a long time afterwards, turning down custom where he did not know would-be passengers, especially after dark.

Details were also given of an earlier incident at Wexford General in March of 2013 when Roche arrived in A&E for treatment to arm injuries caused by self-harm.

He attempted to head butt the garda called to the hospital when the intoxicated patient became obstreperous.

On other occasions, he was found drunk in public and once in Cluain Dara it was necessary to use pepper spray in order to complete his arrest.

In October of 2014 he had a hammer in his hand at St Patrick's Square as he went looking for milk from a neighbour, and an extendable steel baton was found in his knapsack.

The following month, he accompanied a man who was armed with a baseball bat as the pair called to a house in Skeffington Street where a man was assaulted.

Earlier, in April of the same year, he was searched by gardaí who retrieved a folding knife with a four-inch blade from the defendant's sock.

Solicitor Tim Cummings spoke up for Roche, pointing out that his client had not come to recent garda attention.

The court was told that the defendant scarcely knew his father and that he was brought up by his grandmother as his mother was going through addiction during his formative years.

In the witness box he said he was ashamed at hearing how he had put an old man (Furlong) in such fear. The judge responded that people were sick and tired of hearing about drunks causing mayhem in accident and emergency.

However, he decided to give Roche the chance to avoid prison by carrying out 160 hours of community service in lieu of eight months behind bars.

A suspended three-month sentence was recorded for the baseball bat incident, with suspended sentences also handed down for the offensive weapon offences.

The court also noted an offer to raise €300 compensation for the hackney driver.

Wexford People