A taxi driver forced to drive at knife point by a convicted rapist, has described the ordeal as the "most traumatic event of his life".
Part-time driver Pat Dillon said his life has changed “insurmountably” since his taxi was hijacked by two men in Limerick last year.
In a victim impact statement, the 51-year-old grandfather described how he has lost trust in people and now drives with his doors locked constantly.
Convicted rapist Aaron Maloney, aged 20, with an address at McGarry House, Alphonsus St, Limerick, was one of two men who flagged down Mr Dillon’s taxi on January 26, 2013, the day of his 19th birthday.
The second man Hugh Kavanagh, aged 18, of Shannonmore Park, Clareview, Limerick, has since died from a suspected drugs overdose.
Earlier this year, both men pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to unlawfully seizing the taxi at St Nessan’s Road, Raheen, Limerick, on January 26, 2013.
At the sentencing hearing yesterday, the court heard how Mr Dillon drove the men to a number of locations in Limerick and Clare for over 40 minutes before a knife was produced and he was forced to drive back into the city at knife point.
At the entrance to Cratloe Woods, the driver was warned by Maloney, “it now ends here”, the court heard.
During the threatening period of the journey which lasted for 15-20 minutes, the men claimed they were members of the IRA who were going to carry out a hit the following day and needed his car.
Maloney held a knife to the back of Mr Dillon’s neck throughout the journey back into Limerick City where the taxi driver considered crashing into a Garda patrol car which he encountered, the court heard.
John O’Sullivan, prosecuting, said during his ordeal, Mr Dillon had recalled an incident in the 1980s during which a taxi driver from Limerick was abducted and found murdered in Cratloe, Co Clare.
Mr Dillon described the incident as “the most traumatic event of his life”.
“What occurred was a sheer terror for me. I have lost a lot of trust in people and I am now more cautious of who I leave into my car because I am fearful of a reoccurrence of this crime. I now drive with my doors constantly locked.”
He said he suffers from anxiety as a result of this incident and also flashbacks and disturbed sleep patterns.
“My nightmares have all originated from this incident. Never did I think getting into my car that anything of this nature would occur. I was held against my will with a knife an a real threat of an unseen firearm.
“The words ‘it now ends here’ will haunt me forever. My life has changed insurmountably. I will never completely get over this incident,” he concluded.
In his evidence, Detective Garda Pat Whelan described Maloney as a “very troubled young man”, adding the situation is worrying.
The court heard he had previous convictions for rape and false imprisonment committed when he was a minor.
Imposing sentence Judge Carroll Moran noted the 20-year-old’s dysfunctional and troubled family background outlined in a medical report.
Judge Moran described ‘car jackings’ as serious matter and said it was a traumatic experience for the taxi driver who he commended for “his presence of mind while trying to deal with this awful experience”.
The judge imposed a sentence of six years but suspended the final two years.
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