Man who drove car into taxi driver escapes jail

A man who drove a car into a taxi driver who had acted as a "Good Samaritan" by trying to save a colleague from an assault, has received a two year suspended sentence and been given 240 hours community service.

A man who drove a car into a taxi driver who had acted as a "Good Samaritan" by trying to save a colleague from an assault, has received a two year suspended sentence and been given 240 hours community service.

Patrick Dunphy, aged 42, of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to reckless endangerment on James Street, in the city centre, on April 2, 2000.

His companion on the night, Seamus O’Byrne, aged 23, of Lansdowne Valley, was fined €200 after he pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

Dunphy’s nephew, Brian Rattigan, aged 25, of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, who had already been serving a 10 year sentence for drugs and firearms offences, was jailed for three years by Judge Michael White in April, for assault causing serious harm to Mr Dermot Murphy, another taxi driver, attempted seizure of his vehicle and violent disorder on the same night.

The women in the group, Sharon Rattigan, aged 22, of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, and Natasha McEnroe, aged 20, of Captain’s Road, Crumlin, were fined €200 and €175 by Judge Desmond Hogan in December last, when they also pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

Sergeant Michael Heaney told Mr Damien Colgan BL, prosecuting, that Dunphy had been out with the four others when a taxi pulled in to pick up a couple a few yards away from him.

They violently set upon the driver and the couple in the belief the taxi had stopped for them.

Sgt Heaney said the second taxi driver who arrived on the scene, Mr Michael Connolly, was then assaulted by two men and two women. He was forced out of his car, beaten and forced on to the other side of the road.

A third taxi driver, Mr Dermot Murphy, slowed as he approached the scene. He got out of his car to go to Mr Connolly’s assistance leaving his keys in the engine. Dunphy got into Mr Murphy’s car and drove it at the group towards Mr Connolly.

Sgt Heaney said that the car rolled over Mr Connolly’s arm before Dunphy reversed it and drove away. Other taxi drivers went in pursuit of the car but failed to reach it before it went out of view.

Mr Connolly required 17 stitches for his injuries after he drove himself to St James’ Hospital. He had since recovered but had suffered an economic loss of approximately €3,180.

Sgt Heaney agreed with Mr Felix McEnroy SC (with Mr Sean Gillane BL), defending, that Dunphy previously had an impeccable character but had since been convicted on minor offences.

He also accepted that Dunphy was "rotten with drink" on the night and had never intended to hurt Mr Connolly.

Sgt Heaney agreed with Ms Aileen Donnelly SC (with Mr Paul Green BL), that O’Byrne was only 18 years old at the time and had a played a substantially lesser role in the whole incident.

Mr McEnroy told Judge Desmond Hogan that Dunphy had €2,000 in court to offer Mr Connolly in compensation for the losses he incurred and said this represented a "phenomenal sum" to his client as he was currently working as an assistant butcher.

Ms Donnelly said O’Byrne has been out of work for some months as he has nerve damage and paralysis to his left arm, which required a serious operation later this year. O'Byrne had €500 in court as compensation for Mr Connolly.

Judge Hogan said that Dunphy could have caused serious harm to Mr Connolly, whom he said was acting as a "Good Samaritan" and to the other people present, when he drove the car in their direction.

Judge Hogan said he considered it an additional aggravating factor that Dunphy had driven a car that did not belong to him and had done so when he was very drunk.

He sentenced Dunphy to two years in prison but suspended it on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years. He also ordered a community service report to establish if Dunphy is suitable to serve 240 hours work in the community and adjourned finalising the matter to November 24.

Judge Hogan accepted that O’Byrne was on the periphery of the incident and said he had not taken as truculent a role as Dunphy had.

He gave O’Byrne six months to pay a €200 fine and said that he will serve one month in prison if he fails to do so.

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