A man claimed he was summoned to Portlaoise District Court on public order offences because he said a taxi driver tried to charge him €35 for a five-minute journey.
The 55-year-old pleaded guilty to being intoxicated in a public place and to engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour at Millview, Portlaoise on 18 April last.
Garda Sergeant JJ Kirby said that at 12.50am that night, gardaí received a call from a taxi driver, who claimed that he had been assaulted. When gardaí arrived at the scene, they arrested the man.
Sgt. Kirby said the defendant had five previous convictions, including two counts of threating to kill or cause serious harm, assault and drink-driving.
Judge Patricia Cronin asked the defendant if he had legal representation, to which he replied: “I’ll talk for myself.”
He continued: “At all times, the gardaí were very helpful to me. They were very kind in trying to resolve the issue.
“We weren’t long back in the country and were meeting a number of friends in the Midlands Park Hotel (Portlaoise) for Easter celebrations. We got a taxi home, like reasonable people. We had only gone about 300 metres from the hotel, and I asked the driver how much to Kilminchy, which is only a five-minute fare.
“He told me €35. I told him it was only €7 or €8, and no way was I paying €35 for five minutes in his car. He suddenly stopped the car and told us to get out. I told him no, that I would pay him a proper fare. He got from the car and tried to pull me from it. It was me who called the guards.
“When the gardaí arrived, I told them the taxi driver was trying to extort money from me and had manhandled me out of his car. They brought me to the station, where I stayed overnight. We simply wanted to get a taxi home.”
He said: “War (Russian invasion of Ukraine) started on 24 February and we fled a week later. We had been living in Ukraine. We had met with friends that night and it was a lovely evening. I also want to compliment the guards, who made sure that my wife got home safely.”
Judge Cronin said that she was taking into account what the defendant had told her and noted his previous convictions are majorly historic and none were for public order offences.
She went on to convict him of the offences and dismissed the case under the Probation Act.
*Names of defendants in Portlaoise District Court cases are not printed on social media sites but in the Laois Nationalist newspaper that is available in your local shop or in our online edition here