Nikkita Brogan (24) released the taxi driver’s seatbelt so the men could drag the taxi driver from his vehicle and assisted in reattaching the knob of the gearstick as the men attempted to start the taxi.
The court heard Brogan had accompanied her friend to Dublin to visit the brothers, Peter (26) and Jason (18) Collins, whom they were seeing at the time. Her friend, who was also in the taxi, has since died.
The two brothers were sentenced in December 2019 for robbery, assault causing harm and unlawful seizure of a car.
The court heard during their sentence hearing that Peter Collins wrapped a phone charger cable around the neck of the 60-year-old taxi man while his younger brother Jason Collins punched the man in the face and searched his pockets.
Peter Collins, of Collinstown Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin, received four and a half years’ imprisonment. Jason Collins of Eden Quay, Dublin 1, received three and a half years’ imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended.
Brogan, of Croagh Patrick Avenue, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to unlawful seizure of a vehicle at Rutland Grove, Crumlin, Dublin, on May 6, 2019.
Sentencing Brogan today, Judge Melanie Greally noted that Brogan had played a role in the offence by unbuckling the taxi driver's seatbelt. She noted it was a serious offence which was accompanied by the assault of the taxi driver.
She noted Brogan, who has been in custody since January of this year, has consistently expressed her remorse and shame for her actions and has attempted to rehabilitate in custody. She has expressed a wish to become a better mother to her young son.
The judge handed down a 32-month sentence and suspended the final 12 months on a number of conditions.
Detective Garda Caroline Kelly told Kieran Kelly BL, prosecuting, that the taxi driver picked up the two men and two women in the city centre and brought them to Crumlin.
He said as soon as he stated the fare, a “rope” came from the back and around his neck choking him.
He said the man in the passenger seat began punching him and checking his pockets. He was thrown out of the taxi and another taxi driver came to his aid while the men tried to start his car.
The taxi driver said the girls had stayed in the back seat and while they did not threaten or assault him, they did not tell the lads to stop either.
A dashcam recorded the offence, and it was played for the court. Brogan could be seen leaning forward from the back to unclick the seatbelt before the taxi driver was pulled out of the car. She was also seen assisting in reattaching the gearstick knob.
The group were unable to restart the car and abandoned it but were arrested nearby.
Brogan, whose 76 previous convictions are mainly for shoplifting and who was on bail for theft offences at the time, accepted she was in the car and had unclicked the seatbelt. She is currently serving a three-month term for theft and is due for release in September.
She repeatedly said during interview that what had happened was a disgrace, shouldn’t have happened and she was sorry. She said she hoped that the taxi driver would be OK.
Paul O’Carroll SC, defending, said that Brogan and her friend came to Dublin on the bus to visit Jason Collins whom her friend was going out with. He said Brogan began going out with Peter for a very short time. He said they had met up on that evening and been drinking.
Mr Carroll handed in a letter of apology from Brogan and said she had been taking tablets and drinking a lot at the time of the offending. He said her prolific shoplifting convictions tied in with her “going off the rails”.
He said Brogan had indicated at all times that she would plead guilty but the case had been delayed when it was stated to the Court of Appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions in order to have a procedural matter related to the service of books of evidence clarified.
He said his client had not stood in the way of this.