Jury dismissed in trial of taxi driver accused of biting passenger's thumb

Lookman Kareem
Lookman Kareem

A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the case of a taxi driver accused of biting off the top of a passenger's thumb.

Lookman Kareem (48) of Glenvara Park, Knocklyon, Dublin pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Darren O'Connor and assault of Noelle Donohue at Rathmines on December 22, 2013.

In the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, the jury of 10 women and two men found Mr Kareem not guilty of assaulting Noelle Donohue but were unable to reach a verdict on the alleged assault of Mr O'Connor.

Mr Kareem broke down in tears as Judge Patricia Ryan dismissed the jury, who deliberated for just under four hours.

The trial heard Mr O'Connor, his girlfriend Noelle Donohue and two of Ms Donohue's sisters were in Mr Kareem's taxi in the early hours of the morning when they started laughing at his first name.

Ms Donohue told the court her sister said, “Look man, go whatever way you want” to Mr Kareem when discussing which route to take. She said her sister then noticed his name on the driver ID card was Lookman and the group started laughing about it.

The court heard Mr Kareem allegedly became aggressive, shouting “Shut the f*** up, shut the f*** up, you Irish”.

The prosecution alleged Mr Kareem punched Noelle Donohue in the nose when she tried to take his ID card, before hitting her twice when the car pulled over. He then got into a scuffle with Mr O'Connor and allegedly bit the top of his thumb off.

Mr O'Connor told the court he felt “excruciating pain” in his hand.

“The top of my thumb was gone,” he said. “I couldn't believe the pain. I was just looking for a piece of my thumb on the ground.”

A passer-by who came on the scene told the court he saw Mr Kareem spit “something” out of his mouth while another man at the scene screamed “my finger”.

Mr Kareem alleged the passengers were the aggressors and had racially abused him before the incident. He denied knowing how Mr O'Connor lost the top part of his thumb.

Mr Kareem said the group was passing his ID around and taking photos of it. He told gardaí that when he told them they weren't allowed handle his ID, they replied, “This is our country, we can say what we want, we can do what we want. Go back to your own country if you don't like it”.

Mr Kareem alleged he was then dragged out of the taxi by three of the passengers who punched and kicked him while he was on the ground. He said the male passenger punched him to the head and jaw while some passers-by, including a man dressed as Santa Claus, tried to stop it.

Judge Patricia Ryan adjourned the matter to April 28, when a decision will be made on a retrial.