A Westmeath man has been found guilty of threatening behaviour to a taxi driver, whom he described as a ‘nigger’ and was given a six-month suspended sentence for possession of a knife.
When gardaí approached his home, despite evidence that they’d called out that they were gardaí, he met them at the door with a kitchen knife, claiming he thought the taxi driver was there.
“I can’t believe you’re taking the side of a nigger over me,” he yelled at officers as they tried to prevent him from running at the driver.
Alan Keane of Greenfield Heights, Rathwire, Killucan, pleaded not guilty to a number of offences at Mullingar District Court.
Gardaí arrived at Keane and his wife’s house on September 26 last at around 3am following a report from the driver who described himself in court as ‘petrified’ by Keane’s behaviour.
In the witness box he described how Keane brought out his dog, which was later revealed to be a Staffordshire Bull terrier, and smashed a paving slab in a threatening way.
When Garda Enda Browne and Garda Damien McCormack approached the house, Keane emerged with a knife which they say he dropped immediately he was told to.
When asked what he was going to do with it, he replied “You know yourself,” and said he thought gardaí were the taxi driver whom he alleged had threatened to come back with his friends after their dispute over payment.
Once he saw the driver a short distance away, he ran towards him and had to be restrained by gardaí, and accused them of taking the Nigerian’s side over his.
Garda Browne said that if he had confronted the driver as he intended, there would have been a breach of the peace or worse.
Garda McCormack described how Keane then “violently resisted arrest” and gardaí struggled on the ground with him.
Keane told the court he had struck his head on the car as the driver pulled away too quickly while he was getting in. He said the driver refused to give him his insurance and licence details, but offered to compensate him by charging only half the €28.75 fare.
However, the driver disputed this and said Keane’s wife gave him two fivers and told him that was enough.
Keane denied bringing out his dog, but under cross-examination by Supt John Gantly, couldn’t explain how the driver knew about the dog if he hadn’t brought it out.
Judge Elizabeth McGrath believed that he had the knife to commit an offence with it and described his evidence as “conflicting”.
She said she had no difficulty in convicting him of threatening behaviour, drunkenness, and possession of the weapon.
The court heard he was given a three year sentence in 2000 for possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Mr Redmond O’Regan said his client would have dealt with the situation differently if he hadn’t taken so much alcohol.
He was also fined €1,000 for public order offences and ordered to pay €100 costs to the driver and to pay the balance of the fare which he didn’t pay on the night.