Drunk man took on role of ‘investigative journalist’

Judge Mary Devins found two men involved in an incident at a taxi rank in Castlebar, on December 14 2009, guilty of assault at this week’s sitting of Castlebar District Court.

The case, which was heard at a previous sitting outlined that Andrew Morris, 35 Castlegrove East, Castlebar, and Morris Agboerha, 52 Chestnut Grove, Castlebar, claim that each was assaulted by the other on the night in question.

Morris, who has been charged with a section two assault, told the court that after a night out he went to the taxi rank on Bridge Street after 2am. He approached a taxi which was being driven by Agboerha and asked him how much it would cost to bring him home via the Centra shop. Morris said that he was told it would cost €15 and then he tried to bring the price down to €10. When Agboerha said that this could not be done, Morris remarked to him that he had seen him on a Prime Time Investigates programme into social welfare fraud and said that he would not pay him €15 as he had “took enough off this country”. Morris claimed that the taxi driver “flipped” and swung the car door open, which caught the side of Morris’ head and Morris was then pinned against a wall, where Morris said that he was hit three or four times in the head. Another taxi driver pulled Agboerha off Morris and Morris then went to the hospital where he received seven staples to his forehead.

Agboerha, who has been charged with a section three assault, said that Morris came up to his car and straight away mentioned the Prime Time programme. The taxi driver said that Morris then hit his car a number of times and struck Agboerha on his lip.

Agboerha then said he got out of the taxi to pursue Morris in order to detain him until the gardaí arrived, however Morris fell and injured his head. The taxi driver said that after he rang the gardaí he took another fare before he returned to the scene.

A friend of Agboerha, who was parked directly behind him on the night of the incident, said that he observed Morris strike the taxi driver. This witness also said that as he tried to separate the men Morris fell and injured his head. Another taxi driver, who is not connected to either man, told the court that he observed Agboerha assault Morris.

Garda Caoimhe Walsh, who attended the scene, said that neither man made any complaint of assault on the night, however she observed the cut to Morris’s forehead. Both men made complaints to the gardaí about assault at a later stage.

The case was adjourned to this week for a decision. Judge Devins said that Morris, “in his very drunk state”, decided to take on the role of “an investigative journalist” based on what he had seen or had heard about the Prime Time programme. Judge Devins said that she was satisfied that a technical assault was committed by Morris, however “he got more than he bargained for”. The judge found both men guilty of assault.

Morris (25 ), works as a bar man and has no previous convictions. Agboerha, who is married with three kids, has been working as a taxi driver in Castlebar for three years. The court heard that the Prime Time matter is brought up to him on a daily basis.

Judge Devins said that this incident could be “something of a festering sore” and she adjourned sentencing for six months to July 20.

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