Man who ran off with taxi driver's mobile caught via the phone's tracker setting

A man who took part in the robbery of a taxi driver and was caught using a tracker on his victim's mobile phone has been jailed for three and a half years, writes Fiona Ferguson.

Carl Cullen (30), who has a number of relatives that work as taxi drivers, apologised to his victim. He said the robbery had occurred during a "night of absolute madness".

Cullen, of Dingle Road, Cabra, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery at Tolka Valley Road on February 27, 2017. He has 40 previous convictions.

Garda Barry Hehir told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that Cullen and a co-accused jumped into the taxi at about 6am and asked to go to Finglas. The driver became concerned at the men's behaviour.

At Tolka Valley Road the man in the passenger seat pulled up the handbrake. The driver asked him to stop but the man then began pulling at the steering wheel. Cullen, who was in the back, also began grabbing the steering wheel.

The taxi driver, fearing they would crash, stopped the car. The men were acting aggressively and he got out of the car, fearing for his own safety. He went to take his phone with him but Cullen grabbed it out of his hand.

File image

Cullen chased the victim and tried to punch his head, but missed landing a punch on his shoulder.

The taxi driver stayed about 40 metres away from his car. CCTV footage showed the two robbers “rummaging” through the taxi before running off. A number of items were taken including a phone, MP3 player and bag of coins.

Gardaí were alerted and the victim was able to tell them the location of his phone using a “find phone” setting. Gardaí brought him to the location given and the victim pointed out Cullen and his co-accused walking along St Helena's Road in Finglas.

Garda Hehir agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that some of the items had been strewn along the side of the road but that most of the stolen belongings had been recovered.

Mr Le Vert said Cullen, a father of three, had been living at a hostel at the time, where he met his co-accused, and this offence occurred at the end of a three-day drinking session. He said his client described it as “a night of absolute madness.”

Counsel said his client has a number of relatives who work as taxi drivers and knows how hard it is.

He said Cullen, who began drinking and using cocaine following a bereavement, had shown promise as an athlete. He submitted his client was “of a certain age” and was not without prospects.

Judge Martin Nolan said this was a particularly frightening episode during which the taxi driver had been confronted by two intoxicated and violent men.

He took into account Cullen's guilty plea, remorse and his athletic promise. He also noted his previous record of offending and his propensity for violence. He imposed a three and a half year sentence.

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