A one-handed taxi driver explained that he did not lift a heavy suitcase out of the boot of his car for an airport passenger because of his disability but the woman in the car felt that he was verbally abusive and she complained to gardaí about his behaviour.
The matter went to trial at Cork District Court yesterday where 41-year-old Benjamin Aihie of 19, Mahon Drive, Mahon, Cork, pleaded not guilty to engaging in threatening words or behaviour on the occasion outside the passenger’s house in Friars Walk, Cork City.
He denied another charge of failing to drive in a civil manner as a taxi driver.
Judge Olann Kelleher who heard the case said that the charges effectively duplicated each other so he dismissed the second charge and convicted him on the public order charge of engaging in threatening words or behaviour and fined him €250.
The judge said that passenger Nora Collins Cronin found him abusive and insulting on the day.
Judge Kelleher added: “I could see this man was very excited and aggressive in the witness box.”
The driver said there was no issue in terms of driving with the fact that he only has a right hand and a prosthetic left hand said that he was fully registered and cleared to drive a taxi.
He said that working at the airport he lifted lighter cases without a problem but sometimes used his knee to help him get heavier cases into the boot of the car.
He said that getting heavier cases out was more difficult and he sometimes lifted out such cases with the passenger.
Ms Collins Cronin said that he used abusive language when he was outside her house. This allegation was put to the defendant by his solicitor, Paudie O’Mahony.
Mr Aihie replied: “No, not at all. She said I should not be driving with one hand and she was going to report me to the appropriate body.”
Inspector John Deasy cross-examined the defendant about whether he was impatient with the passenger for going into her home to get the €13 fare.
Mr Aihie replied: “Every taxi driver is impatient [in that] we work with time because time is our money.”
He denied a suggestion by the inspector that he was abusive, argumentative and uncivil to the passenger.
Mr Aihie said that Ms Collins Cronin went into her house without telling him that she was going in to get the money to pay the fare.
He said that she was about three minutes inside the house and that he was outside the house that night for 10 or 12 minutes in total.
Mr Aihie said that so much time was wasted outside the house that he ended up finishing his work then as there was no time left to go back to the airport to pick up another passenger on that night, November 25, 2014.
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