Dublin taxi driver violently carjacked says he no longer feels safe working

Court: Feargal MacEoin said he was subjected to an “horrific ordeal”
Court: Feargal MacEoin said he was subjected to an “horrific ordeal”

A Dublin taxi-driver whose cab was hijacked by two men in the early hours of the morning said he no longer feels safe working but is too old to change profession.

In a victim impact statement, Feargal MacEoin said he was subjected to an “horrific ordeal” when he decided to take one last fare coming off the M50 at 2:20am on May 8, 2014.

Mr MacEoin said he was “totally shaken and terrified” when two passengers, one armed with a knife, threatened to stab him after he drove them to Laurel Lodge in Castleknock, Dublin.

Andrew Byrne (29), with an address at Fortlawn Avenue, Clonsilla, was sentenced to three years in prison for unlawfully seizing Mr MacEoin's car by force.

He had pleaded guilty to the offence, as well as to producing a knife and driving the car without insurance.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Martin Nolan said the taxi-driver's peace of mind had been severely affected by the ordeal.

Co-accused Ross Cahill, from Portrane Road, Donabate, Co Dublin, was previously sentenced to five years in prison with the final two years suspended.

Garda Peter Foley told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that the taxi driver was flagged down by two men and initially refused the fare as he wanted to go home.

However the men insisted that Mr MacEoin drive them to Castleknock and said they would pay him €5.  On arrival at their destination, one of the men got out of the cab and walked around to Mr MacEoin's side on the pretence of paying the fare.

Instead, the man opened the drivers' door, grabbed the keys and encouraged the other passenger, who had produced a knife, to stab Mr MacEoin.

Mr MacEoin managed to send a distress signal to his base on the radio before getting out of the car.  As the cab drove away, he saw that the men removed the taxi sign.

Gardaí later spotted the car in the Howth area and arrested Byrne and Cahill.

Mr MacEoin's victim impact statement said that damage, costing over €3,000, was caused when the men ripped out the metre and discarded it.

Mr MacEoin said that ever since the attack, he finds every fare very stressful and “doesn't know where to feel safe”.

“I'm totally uptight because I don't know what's going to happen,” he said.

Byrne has 71 previous minor offences including assault, drugs offences, possession of knives and criminal damage.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said Byrne comes from a decent family but became addicted to drugs and alcohol as a teenager. Byrne is now on a waiting list for Merchant's Quay drug treatment centre and is working as a prison cleaner while in custody.

By Jessica Magee