Jonathan Turley had been extradited back to Northern Ireland from Thailand to face charges over the attack eight years ago.
The 40-year-old must serve half his sentence in jail and the rest under supervised licence conditions. The judge advised Turley that his licence period “may well be your stepping stone to a normal life.”
Once considered one of the most dangerous criminals in Northern Ireland, Turley had already pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm.
Things turned nasty when the cabbie, suspecting the man he’d just picked up at an address in Belfast wasn’t the person who had made the booking, asked Turley the name the taxi had been ordered under.
Not happy with his response, Turley was then asked to get out.
The judge explained what happened next: “At this stage the male said how about I throw you out of the car and he punched the driver with a closed fist, connecting with his jaw and punching him several times more, he leaned forward and bit his right ear, detaching part of it,’’ he said.
The injured driver had to undergo specialised plastic surgery but a partial DNA hit later led detectives to Turley.
Turley, from Windsor Road in Belfast, is no stranger to the courts. He was at one stage a category three dangerous offender and has previously served time for a frenzied knife attack.
Antrim Crown Court on Wednesday was told it was clear that Turley was now “distancing himself from negative peer groups” and was actively engaging with the Reducing Offending Unit, resulting in a reduction down to a category two offender.
The judge said due to those reports he was not classifying Turley as a significant risk to the public
As Judge Rafferty began to announce the five-year sentence Turley, who appeared by video-link from prison, became visibly agitated.
The judge noted he would get a release date in the coming days.