A Dublin woman who attacked and threatened to kill a pizza delivery driver in a racially-motivated incident will be sentenced next March.
Chantal Johnston (37), of Clonard Road in Crumlin, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm and dangerous driving at Domino’s Pizza on Crumlin Road in the early hours of July 9th, 2022.
At a hearing in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday, the court heard that Johnston called the man “a bloody foreigner” and a “little Paki” before pushing, punching and kicking him in an unprovoked attack.
Prosecuting garda Evan Owens said at one point Johnston started biting the man’s leg and that after getting into her car, she drove towards him in a threatening manner and threatened to kill him.
In a victim impact statement, the injured man said Johnston had attacked him “like a vicious animal” and that he continues to suffer physical pain, anxiety and depression because of the assault.
“To be racially abused in your own country while providing services is extremely hurtful. It will stay with me my whole life. I felt degraded and insignificant,” the man’s statement read.
At a hearing on Thursday, Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing BL, defending Johnston, said there was simply no justification for what he described as a “mindless, senseless attack on a person going about his business, working and contributing to the State”.
Mr Ó Dúnlaing described the racist utterances made by his client as “foul, obscene, nothing short of absolutely shocking” and “disgusting, quite frankly”.
Counsel said Johnston had “no recollection, or very little recollection” of making those utterances and had instructed him that she was “simply not that type of person”. Mr Ó Dúnlaing said “she apologised profusely”.
The court heard Johnston had the sum of €1,000 available to be given to the victim as a small token of her remorse and to help defray his medical fees.
Judge Orla Crowe said she was “utterly underwhelmed” by Johnston’s apology, adding: “In light of the personalised nature of this attack, the racial implications and consequences for that citizen of this country, this court would have expected that she would sit down and write a letter.”
Garda Owens told Aoife McNickle BL, prosecuting, that the injured party works as a health and safety officer for a different company but also works part-time as a driver for Domino’s pizza.
Ms McNickle said the man had no awareness as to why Johnston had attacked him and said: “It came out of nowhere”.
Johnston has no previous convictions.
She was arrested by appointment and released pending trial, but submitted an early guilty plea and agreed with gardaí that her behaviour was not acceptable.
In the man’s victim impact statement, extracts of which were read aloud by counsel for the State, he said he was born in Ireland and had lived all his life in Dublin.
He said being racially attacked had taken its toll and had had a “heavy effect” on his work life and personal life.
He said he used to be fun-loving and sociable but has lost his ability to trust people and has withdrawn socially. He still suffers physical pain in his shoulders.
Mr Ó Dúnlaing said Johnston had attended a funeral on the day which brought back memories of her grandfather’s death some months previously.
He said Johnston took “way too many antidepressants” on the day and was clearly under the influence.
Mr Ó Dúnlaing said his client, a single mother of two, was unlikely to ever darken the door of the court again.
Judge Crowe remarked: “Lots of people take antidepressants and go to funerals and do not end up behaving in that manner towards a completely innocent person.”
The judge agreed to defer the sentence and order a probation report, noting that perhaps probation services might suggest a form of restorative justice.
The case was adjourned for finalisation to March 11th next year.
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