Taxi driver (59) left with head and facial injuries after Dublin attack

Four youths questioned over incident in early hours of Monday

The driver had a phone and cash stolen in the incident on Monday morning. File photograph: Alan Betson

The driver had a phone and cash stolen in the incident on Monday morning. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

A 59-year-old taxi driver was left with serious head and facial injuries after he was attacked by a group of youths in Dublin early on Monday.

Four people have been arrested following the attack, gardaí have confirmed.

“The incident occurred at approximately 12.30am at Rutland Grove, Crumlin. It’s understood the taxi driver was overpowered and seriously assaulted by a group of youths after driving them from the city centre,” a Garda spokesman added.

The driver’s mobile phone, a sum of cash and a dash cam were taken during the incident. He was taken to St James’s Hospital by ambulance after the attack.

Garda units from Sundrive and Crumlin Garda Stations arrested two males and two females, all aged in their late teens and early 20s, on Sundrive Road, Crumlin a short time later.

They were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 for questioning.

The Garda spokesman said the scene of the incident and the taxi had been examined by scenes of crime officers and enquires were ongoing. The taxi driver is continuing to recover in hospital and his injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

Gardaí appealed for witnesses to come forward and said anyone with information can contact Sundrive Road Garda Station on 01-6666600 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.

Joe Herron, president of the Irish Taxi Driver Federation, said taxi drivers were in “a very vulnerable position” because they were often left with no choice but to pick up a group of unruly passengers who were next in line at a busy taxi rank.

Mr Herron advised drivers to ensure they had front- and back-seat cameras and an internet connection with video being constantly uploaded “to the cloud” in the event of an assault.

“Even if they take the dash cam, this means they would still have an image of their attackers,” he said.

He suggested the Government should consider exempting taxi drivers from wearing seat belts in order to deprive assailants of something that could be used against them.

“The seat belt gives these people a weapon,” he said.

Mr Herron said most fares on an average busy weekend night were completed without incident by the 11,000 taxi drivers operating in Dublin. He hoped the latest attackers would be given lengthy sentences to serve as a deterrent.

“Hopefully, the judiciary will make examples of them,” he said.

Kilkenny-based taxi driver Derek Devoy, who runs Taxi Watch Ireland, said the Government should consider introducing longer mandatory sentences to deter assaults on taxi drivers.

New York City introduced sentences of up to 25 years in prison for assaults on taxi drivers, said Mr Devoy, and this led to a dramatic on the number of violent incidents on drivers.

He said there had been a noticeable increase in attacks on drivers, many of whom were reluctant or embarrassed to report incidents during which they had been overpowered. The increase had led to more drivers working during day-time hours only.

“Personally I have gone to the stage where I am working from a taxi app; at least you are dealing with customers who have a credit card and you can identify them,” he said.

“If you are picking up off the street, you don’t know who you are getting in your car. Because it is not busy some nights, you have no choice. You are on your own and taking a risk.”

Installing protecting screens would mean losing a seat and business, he said. “You would be going from a four-seater to three passengers. The screens aren’t going to work unless you get bigger cars, like the taxis in London,” he said.