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Dublin woman smashed glass bottle over taxi driver's head

Sarah Fitzgerald
Sarah Fitzgerald

A Dublin woman has been spared jail after she admitted attacking a taxi-driver and breaking a beer bottle over his head.

Sarah Fitzgerald (23), of Sycamore Lawn, Carpenterstown, Castleknock pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Ji Yu Song and causing him harm on July 5, 2014 in Ranelagh.

Judge Martin Nolan gave Fitzgerald a suspended sentence of two and a half years and warned her that she had “come very close” to going to prison.

He said Fitzgerald had been a “secondary actor” in the assault and that her co-accused and former boyfriend, Gary Crowley, had been the main aggressor.

The court heard that Crowley was previously sentenced to two and a half years in prison for his role in the assault. He had 28 previous convictions at the time.

Sarah Fitzgerald outside court

Judge Nolan said it was unlikely that Fitzgerald, who is due to begin a Third level degree at Dublin Business School in September, would get into trouble again.

Fitzgerald brought the sum of €7,000 to court as a token of her remorse, which Judge Nolan ordered to be passed on to Mr Song.

Detective Garda James O'Donnell told Tom Neville BL, prosecuting, that taxi-driver Ji Yu Song was heading home in the early hours when he picked up a girl in Blanchardstown.

She passed her phone to Mr Song and a man told him to take the girl first to Meath Street, then to Jurys Inn at Christchurch.

When they arrived at Christchurch, the man got into the taxi and asked the driver to take them to Ranelagh. On arrival the man gave the driver €5 in change but refused to pay the outstanding €20.

The man closed his fist and said to Mr Song, “I'm not going to pay you,” and then, “leave me alone or I'm going to fight you”.

He punched Mr Song over his right eye, knocking off his glasses, and the girl also gave Mr Song a bang on the back of the head.

Mr Song fought back and grabbed the girl by the hair. Then he heard glass breaking around him and realised the woman had hit him at least twice with the bottle.

He told gardaí later that both the man and the woman punched and kicked him, and the man held him by the throat squeezing him hard and threatened to seriously harm him.

Witnesses gathered and called gardaí and the couple fled to a nearby men's shelter where they were arrested.

Gardaí said Fitzgerald was very drunk and covered in blood on her hands, face and clothes. She had to be restrained after she shouted and roared and lashed out aggressively at gardaí.

Mr Song was hospitalised and got several stitches on his head, staples on his hand and an x-ray.

On arrest, Fitzgerald said she didn't remember much but made full admissions when she was shown CCTV footage and apologised for what she had done. Fitzgerald has one previous conviction for drink-driving.

Anne Marie Lawlor BL, defending, said Fitzgerald was hugely remorseful and had written a letter of apology to court.

Ms Lawlor said her client had been in an abusive relationship with a third party at the time and was on strong medication for depression, which she had combined with alcohol. The court heard Fitzgerald no longer drinks and attends AA meetings and counselling.

The court was presented with numerous reference letters including from from Fitzgerald's parish priest and secondary school principal. Judge Nolan praised her efforts to rehabilitate herself and ordered her to keep the peace for two and a half years.