A taxi driver grabbed what he believed to be a gun from a man trying to rob him, a court has heard.
Derek McCann (39) produced an imitation firearm after flagging down the taxi but was knocked off balance when the taxi driver suddenly braked and attempted to wrest the firearm from him.
The pair continued to struggle after getting out of the vehicle until another taxi driver came to his colleague’s assistance, kicking the gun out of McCann’s hand and alerting gardai.
McCann, of Walkinstown Park, Walkinstown, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempted robbery at Clogher Road, Dublin 12 on June 2, 2019.
Judge Melanie Greally noted there had been several episodes of “fairly vigorous struggle” between the taxi driver and McCann culminating in the involvement of another driver.
She noted the incident had a considerable effect on the taxi driver, who no longer works nights.
The judge gave McCann credit for his guilty plea and co-operation. She took into account his drug addiction, family support and the progress he has made while in custody.
Judge Greally imposed a five year sentence backdated to June 2019 when he went into custody.
McCann, who has previous convictions for burglary, assault, theft and handling stolen property, was on a suspended sentence at the time of the offence. He now faces possible reactivation of the suspended portion of that sentence. That case has been adjourned to later this month for hearing.
Garda Damien Quirke told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that McCann had flagged down a taxi and asked to be taken to Clogher Road. He and the taxi driver spoke about football until a certain point when McCann pulled up his hood and produced what appeared to be a gun.
He told the taxi driver “This is a robbery” and issued directions on where to drive.
The taxi driver reached down and unlocked his seat belt before suddenly applying the brakes and knocking McCann off balance. He grabbed the gun and realised it was made of plastic.
McCann managed to get free and the taxi driver got out of the car, leaving the keys in the ignition.
McCann attempted to get into the driver’s seat and there was a further struggle until McCann attempted to run away. The taxi driver believed he had the car keys and gave chase.
The taxi driver tackled McCann and he fell to the ground.
Another taxi driver came to his assistance and kicked the imitation firearm out of McCann’s reach, before ringing gardai. They held McCann, who was making threats, on the ground until gardai arrived.
McCann was arrested and made admissions. He told gardai he owed a “big debt”.
Gda Quirke agreed with David Staunton BL, defending, that McCann was under the influence of drugs but was co-operative when gardai arrived. He has been in custody since his arrest.
Mr Staunton told Judge Greally the offences were fueled by a desperation to fuel his drug addiction and a pressure to pay his drug debt.
He said his client had support from his family and wished to play a more active role in his children’s lives in the future.
He said McCann had left school without qualifications and began abusing drugs and alcohol at an early age. He has been in and out of custody for a long period of time.
Counsel said McCann had been using his time in custody well and hoped to do state exams.