Irish Army officer given suspended prison sentence for ‘shameful attack’ on taxi driver
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the taxi driver picked up Keane and his partner at 4am from the Camden Street area on the night in question
Yesterday at 17:21
A member of the Irish Defence Forces who carried out a “shameful attack” on a taxi driver has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Daniel Keane (36) of Seagrave Park, Rathoath, Co. Meath pleaded guilty to assault causing harm, production of an article and making off without paying for a taxi at St Anthony’s Crescent, Crumlin on December 7, 2019.
Keane has no previous convictions and is a serving officer in the Irish Army.
Imposing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Judge Orla Crowe said this was a “shameful attack on a man doing his job”.
She handed Keane an 18-month sentence, suspended in full for two years on strict conditions.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the taxi driver picked up Keane and his partner at 4am from the Camden Street area on the night in question. The couple appeared intoxicated and were engaged in a verbal disagreement during the journey.
When the taxi stopped at St Anthony’s Crescent, Keane got out of the taxi and told the driver that his partner would pay the €20.80 fare due. Keane’s partner said she didn’t know if she had the money.
The taxi doors were locked and Keane’s partner said she had €5. She rang Keane to ask him to pay, but he screamed at her on the call before hanging up.
Keane’s partner asked the victim to open the taxi door and said she would get cash to pay him from the house. She went into the house and the taxi driver waited five minutes.
The taxi driver then left the car and knocked on the door. Keane opened the door, grabbed the victim’s jacket and said: “How dare you knock on the door as grandfather is sleeping”.
Keane then went into the house and came back with a 2ft black fire poker in his right hand. The victim ran away from the door, but Keane followed him.
The defendant swung the poker, hitting the victim on the hip, causing him to fall to the ground. Keane took the victim’s wallet and removed €100. The taxi driver’s phone also fell and the screen smashed.
The taxi driver ran away but Keane followed and gave him back the €100 he had taken. The defendant then struck the injured party’s face with the poker. The taxi driver managed to call gardai and was taken to hospital where he was treated for injuries to his face and hip.
Keane told gardai that he hadn’t assaulted anyone and the poker was in his hand to point at the driver. He said he offered the taxi driver an IOU, but the driver became irate, and there was a small scuffle at the door of the house.
Keane apologised for ruining the driver’s night and accepted that an IOU was not appropriate. A victim impact statement was handed to the court. The injured party said he had lost income and is afraid to drive at night.
Maurice Coffey SC, defending, suggested his client had misconstrued the situation after having a lot to drink. Keane is a social drinker and the couple hadn’t realised they had no money to pay for the taxi.
Mr Coffey said a probation report puts his client at low risk of re-offending. Keane is a father of two children. His client is taking medication for anxiety and attending counselling.
A letter of apology from Keane was handed into court as well as other testimonials. A letter from the Irish Army confirmed that Keane lost the chance of promotion due to this incident.
At a previous sentence hearing, Judge Crowe said the court didn’t agree with the narrative put forward by the defence. She said the victim was also a father who had been doing an “honest night’s work”.
Mr Coffey said his client had brought a €5,000 to court as a gesture of remorse, in addition to the €1,000 offered as a gesture of remorse last July. He said his client is of limited means and covered his mother’s mortgage repayments while she was ill.
Mr Coffey asked Judge Crowe to consider giving his client probation to avoid his dismissal from the defence forces and the loss of his career.
Defence counsel said there were a “unique set of circumstances” and argued that the consequences of a conviction for his client could be very high.
Judge Crowe noted that Keane has 16 years of service in the Irish Defence Forces and served his country at home and abroad.
She said the aggravating factors in the case included Keane striking the victim several times. Keane had entered a guilty plea on a trial date and the normal discount on a sentence for an early plea was not available.
Judge Crowe said the victim had been seeking what was lawfully owed to him and people taking taxis at night should know that they can’t offer an IOU.
She said mitigating factors included Keane’s guilty plea, his lack of previous convictions, his status as a family man and the token of remorse offered.
Judge Crowe said it would not be appropriate to apply probation in this case as Keane had entered a guilty plea on a trial date and there were three offences relating to this incident.