Taxi driver tells of terror at attack by passenger

COURT HEARS OF INCIDENT AFTER HEINEKEN CUP FINAL

AN AGEING taxi driver spoke this week of his terror at getting an elbow in the face from a drunk customer who wouldn't pay his fare.

Joseph Boyle, from Mayglass, told how he was assaulted by Thomas Goff Jnr from The Cott's, Tacumshane, Broadway at 4 a.m. on the morning after the Heineken Cup final on May 24, 2009.

In Wexford District Court on Monday Mr. Boyle told how he'd brought Goff from town to his home in Tacumshane but when he got there, Goff had no money to pay the €28 fare.

Mr. Boyle agreed to bring him to a cash point in Drinagh, but as he drove back he was assaulted in the taxi by Goff who elbowed him several times in the face.

He alleged that Goff then stole two mobile phones from him.

'A mile from Larkin's pub, he totally lost it. I got an elbow under the eye and another in the nose,' he said.

He later added under cross examination by Nigel Allen, defending : 'It's not a pleasant thing to be driving along at 55 mph to get an elbow into your face.'

He said Goff got out of the car then and pulled Mr. Boyle out of the vehicle. 'He gave me another few digs,' he said.

Another taxi, driven by Vincent Grace from Corish Park was travelling up the road and 'read the situation'. He stopped the car, called the Gardai who asked him to try to keep Goff at the scene until they arrived.

In his evidence Vincent Grace said he saw Joe Boyle was covered in blood. 'At first I thought it was an accident then Joe told me he had been assaulted and to phone the guards,' he said.

Mr. Grace spoke of having an altercation with Thomas Goff on the side of the road. 'He hit me a box. When he went to hit me again we started grappling and I was knocked backwards onto the grass,' he said.

He added that he eventually ended up straddling Goff to immobilise him until the Gardai arrived.

Gda Declan Dennehy said that when they arrived at the scene they found Mr. Grace on top of Goff, who was intoxicated at the time.

He said they phoned Joseph Boyles phone, which he alleged was stolen and it rang in Goff 's pocket. The other phone was later found in a field nearby.

In his own evidence Thomas Goff, who denied the allegations, said he went into town to see the Heineken cup that day, and had expected to be joined by his wife later. He had some drinks in the Talbot followed by food, and more drinks in Maggie May's before he returned to the Talbot.

He later went to Uncle Sam's and then hailed a taxi home as his wife had been called in to work and didn't come to get him. He said he thought he had the fare home on him.

However, he said that when he got to his house he realised he didn't and said Mr. Boyle locked the car doors and said he'd drive him to an ATM to get the fare money. He said he refused to allow him go into his house to get the money off his wife.

In his evidence he said that he was nervous in the car with the doors locked and said that Joseph Boyle had hit him 'a back handed slap in the face' when he tried to get out.

He said when the car stopped and he got out of the car he saw a Nokia phone on the seat which he believed was his own phone.

He said he sustained injuries including a mark to his head and back. He denied assaulting anyone. Evidence was also given by his wife Lisa Goff who said her husband was a 'very good working man'. She said the allegations had 'shocked and upset' her.

After hearing the evidence Judge Donnchadh O Buachalla found the facts proven against the defendant. He was charged with assaults against both taxi drivers, theft of the mobile phones and making off without payment of a fare.

The defendant had no previous convictions.

Judge O Buachalla decided to adjourn the case for 8 to ten weeks to give the defendant the opportunity to bring €1,500 to court. 'If that is forthcoming, hopefully we can finalise the matter,' he said.

The defendant was remanded on continuing bail until October 3.

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