A former drug addict who attacked an elderly taxi driver, stole his car and then crashed it has managed to avoid jail.
Father-of-one Eric Norton (aged 20) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm and robbery at Cromcastle Park, Coolock on May 28, 2102.
The court heard that 74-year-old taxi driver Martin Kelly suffered an injury to his hand, almost €6,000 damage to his car and three week’s loss of earnings because of the ordeal.
Norton, of Cromcastle Court, Coolock, was given a three-year suspended sentence on condition that he comply with the Probation and Welfare Services for 12 months.
Garda Thomas Gary told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that Mr Kelly picked up Norton and two women in his taxi shortly after 1am on the night in question and was told to drive to Coolock.
Gda Gary said the girls jumped out of the taxi after a short journey and Norton directed Mr Kelly to drive into the flats at Cromcastle Park.
When Mr Kelly refused, Norton said: “Give me the f***ing keys and your phone. We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” He was aged 19 at the time.
When Norton put his hand into his jacket, Mr Kelly thought he was going for a knife.
The court heard that a struggle ensued in the car before Mr Kelly jumped out and ran to a nearby house calling for help.
Norton followed him and managed to wrestle the keys from Mr Kelly on the street before stealing the car and speeding off in the direction of Artane.
The taxi driver knocked on another door and was able to use a young man’s phone to call gardai. The man also gave him a bandage for his injured hand.
Gda Gary said the car was later found crashed near Cromcastle Flats and the damage was estimated at €5,729.
Mr Kelly also lost three weeks' earnings and has suffered nightmares ever since the attack.
The court heard that the taxi driver cares and provides for his 34-year-old son who was left disabled after a serious back injury.
Michael Bowman BL, defending, confirmed that his client has paid €350 in compensation and had apologised to Mr Kelly.
Mr Bowman said Norton had got in with a bad crowd and had been in a “state of drift”.
He said his client has since completed a residential drug treatment programme and is now drug-free. He also works part time in a crash repair centre and has a place on the Boxing Clever programme.
The court heard that Norton has nine previous convictions, including theft and public intoxication.
Mr Bowman said Martin Kelly had made the generous gesture of shaking hands with Norton in court.
Judge Ring told Norton: “Mr Kelly has been far nicer to you than you were to him. Keep that in mind.”
She also pointed out the “particular irony” that Norton’s mother works in a carriage office for a taxi company.
Judge Ring suspended the three-year sentence and told Norton to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years.