A Zimbabwean man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has received a three and a half year sentence for beating a taxi driver with a bicycle chain.
Robert Garwe (aged 41) was observed by a witness in another car as having “no regard for the baby” on a back seat on his bicycle when he threw it down and started fighting with Dermot Geraghty in a Ballymun supermarket car park.
The witness told gardai she then saw Garwe take the lock and chain off his bike after the first altercation and “casually” swing it at Mr Geraghty’s head.
Garwe, of College View Apartments, Ballymun, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at SuperValu, Sillogue Road, Ballymun on November 22, 2011.
His previous convictions include assault, possession of a knife, drugs and theft charges all dealt with at district court level.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring accepted that Garwe is now on medication for his condition and combats the drowsiness he feels as a side effect by going to the gym in jail. Judge Ring, who commented that the assault could have been “fatal”, had remanded Garwe in custody last November following the sentence hearing.
Earlier, Garda Kevin Kennedy said that the 36-year-old victim suffered a skull fracture and scalp lacerations during the attack. Mr Geraghty told gardai his confidence “was shattered” and that the incident has exacerbated existing stress related conditions.
Gda Kennedy told Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, that the taxi driver had been parking his car outside the supermarket when Garwe cut across the back of his Jeep on the bicycle.
Mr Geraghty shouted out the window at the cyclist and then got out of his car to confront Garwe, who had slammed down his bike. Both men started fighting until Mr Geraghty’s wife shouted at them to stop.
The witness in the other car told gardai that after Garwe hit the injured party with the lock, he picked up his bicycle and brought the child on the back to a crèche.
Garwe initially took a trial date claiming that he acted in self defence, but eventually pleaded guilty.
Mr Geraghty spent three nights in hospital and lost over €4,500 in earnings and medical expenses.
Gda Kennedy agreed with James Dwyer BL, defending, that another witness had described the two men in the initial fight as being equal in ferocity.
Mr Dwyer submitted to Judge Mary Ellen Ring that a psychologist report on his client revealed he suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder due to the backdrop of civil war and intertribal violence in Zimbabwe during his childhood.
The report found that Garwe experienced a “limbic hijacking” during his attack on the taxi driver, in which his thinking and judgement had been clouded. This was a result of his severe post traumatic stress disorder.
Judge Ring backdated the sentence to when Garwe entered custody last November and suspended the final 18 months on condition he remains under Probation Service supervision post release.