Man accused of racist attack on taxi driver after video went viral intends to plead guilty, court hears

Man accused of racist attack on taxi driver after video went viral intends to plead guilty, court hears
Clive Mason outside court today. Pic: Paddy Cummins

A 42-year-old man accused of racially abusing and attacking a taxi driver in Dublin after a video of the alleged incident went viral online, is to plead guilty at the earliest possible date, a court has heard.

Clive Mason, from Kerry but who has an address at The Close, Robswall, Malahide, Dublin, faced his second hearing when he appeared before Judge Bryan Smyth at Dublin District Court today.

Judge Smyth rejected pleas from Mr Mason’s solicitor to reverse an earlier ruling in which he had refused jurisdiction for the case to be dealt with at district court level.

Declan Fahy submitted today that the complainant's GP had indicated the taxi driver had soft tissue injury for a number of weeks. Mr Fahy argued that the injury was fully investigated but the man had not needed a MRI scan, and there were insufficient grounds to send the case to the circuit court, which can impose lengthier sentences.

Mr Fahy asked the judge to note his client had co-operated with gardaí and he made a statement.

Urging Judge Smyth to reconsider, the solicitor said his client is to plead guilty at the earliest possible date.

Refusing the application, Judge Smyth said he had already considered all that as well as the “surrounding circumstances” when he refused jurisdiction in July.

“I do no propose to reverse that,” he told the defence solicitor.

A book of evidence was then served on Mr Mason whose case was sent forward on indictment. He was remanded on bail to appear at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on November 8 next.

Mr Mason spoke briefly to say he understood when cautioned that he must notify the prosecution if he intended to rely on an alibi in his defence, and as he confirmed his signature on his bail bond.

He was charged with assault causing harm to Samuel Banjoko Johnson, who is originally from Nigeria, endangerment of life and making off from a taxi without paying a €16.20 fare, at Malahide Road in Donnycarney.

It was alleged the driver was repeatedly called "nigger" and punched by a passenger he picked up on the night of Easter Sunday, April 21 last.

Evidence was given by Garda Andrew Fox of Clontarf Station during a hearing in July.

He had told Judge Smyth that Mr Mason was charged on June 27 after he was met by appointment at Clontarf Garda station. “He made no reply to charge after caution,” he said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed “summary disposal”, for the case to be dealt with at district court level. However, Judge Smyth held it should be sent forward to the circuit court after he heard an outline of the allegations.

Garda Fox alleged that on April 21, at 10.20pm, the defendant obtained the service of the taxi driver. He sat on the front passenger seat and during the course of the journey it was alleged Mr Mason asked the driver what was “his favourite position, as in car position”.

The driver, Mr Johnson, did not understand and it was alleged Mr Mason then became “aggressive and angry”.

Judge Smyth was told the accused asked: “Did he deny his position as a nigger? Then called him a nigger on a number of occasions”.

The court heard he took off his seat belt and leaned over causing the vehicle to veer sharply into a bus lane.

The taxi driver stopped the car, having avoided a collision. The court heard he received a number of punches to the left side of his face and it was alleged the accused shouted: “drive me home you nigger cunt”.

Garda Fox said the driver received soft tissue injuries and he furnished the court with a medical report.

Judge Smyth noted the report said he had been diagnosed with concussion. He went to his GP two days later and was referred to Beaumont Hospital, the court heard.

Judge Smyth had said having heard an outline of the alleged facts and having considered the report and observations, he was refusing jurisdiction.

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