A COUNTY Limerick man who attempted to strangle a taxi driver by wrapping the flex of his on-board camera around his neck was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Patrick Curtin, aged 30, who has an address at Cloughnadromin, Ballysimon pleaded guilty to robbing €80 from the taxi driver at Main Street, Caherconlish during the early hours of May 18, 2013.
Curtin, the court heard, comes from a large family and has a total of 32 previous convictions.
During a sentencing hearing, Limerick Circuit Court was told Curtin and his then girlfriend hailed a taxi near Brown Thomas in the city centre at around 3am and asked to be brought to Caherconlish having agreed a fare of €25.
Detective Garda Gary Laide said neither of them were excessively drunk and that they were “chatty” throughout the journey.
When the taxi stopped near the petrol station in the village, the woman got out and walked down a laneway to her home.
The taxi driver told gardai at this point he noticed a change in the defendant’s personality and he described how he “went mental” and attacked him.
He grabbed the camera which was stuck to the front window, wrapped the cord around the taxi driver’s neck and “squeezed it” in an attempt to strangle him.
He punched the taxi driver a number of times before threatening to cut off his head when he managed to free himself.
Det Garda Laide said Curtin took around €80 in cash from the taxi before fleeing when the driver flagged down another car to raise the alarm.
John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, said the taxi driver, who did not make a victim impact statement, told gardai he was in fear of his life and was “fully convinced he was going to be killed”.
A probation report stated the defendant has “serious issues with alcohol” and Judge Tom O’Donnell noted there is a “high risk” of him reoffending if he does not address his drinking.
“It is a “classic scenario of promising one thing and doing the exact opposite,” he said,
Imposing sentence, he said the taxi driver was “simply going about his business earning a livelihood” and that it must have been an “extremely frightening” experience for him.
He described the incident as “very serious, aggressive, violent and unprovoked”.
He imposed a three year prison sentence, suspending the final year for three years on condition Mr Curtin stays out of trouble following his release from custody.