Teenager jailed for hijacking city taxi

A Waterford taxi driver who was hijacked at knifepoint said the experience had left him unable to sleep at night.

A Waterford taxi driver who was hijacked at knifepoint said the experience had left him unable to sleep at night.

An 18-year-old youth was sentenced by Waterford Circuit Criminal Court last week to two years in prison with the final year suspended, for hijacking a taxi at knife point and damaging the vehicle in an incident at Sally Park, Waterford on March 8th last.

William Harty, with an address at The Anchorage, The Quay, Waterford, pleaded guilty to the charges and was put on probation for two years on condition that he kept the peace and remained under the auspices of the probation and welfare services and received counselling for alcohol abuse.

The court heard that the defendant took a taxi from Michael Street to Sally Park where the taxi driver Thomas Hoban became concerned and noticed that his passenger had a Stanley knife with a one and a half inch blade.

The defendant took offence when asked if he had money for the fare and brandished the knife in the driver’s face. He said he was taking the car and grabbed the keys and took the phone off the holder.

The driver was ordered out of the cab but he managed to grab the keys and run. The defendant then chased him waving the knife.

Two passers-by, Richard Walsh and James Sheehan, noticed the taxi stopped in an unusual place and spotted the altercation and went to the assistance of the taxi driver.

An unmarked Garda patrol car was also in the area and the defendant was arrested when he ran off towards the Railway Station.

In a victim impact report the taxi driver Thomas Hoban (53) said he had been driving for many years and had never experienced such a terrifying incident.

The knife was held close to his face and the experience left him very shaken and unable to sleep at night. He wanted to give up his taxi business but could not afford to do so. The damage to the taxi and mobile phone amounted to €420.

Sergeant Larry Sheehan said the defendant had 27 previous convictions for road traffic matters, criminal damage, theft, unauthorised taking of a vehicle, possession of an offensive weapon and robbery.

Alcohol was a key factor in the incident and he was under the influence on the day in question. He had been drinking heavily with older relations who had a negative influence on him. When he was not drinking he kept to himself and did not run amok.

Barrister Robert O’Neill, defending, said his client had a dysfunctional upbringing and at times had been homeless and in care.

He was in a relationship with a woman in Kilkenny and they had a child and were expecting another. The court was urged to consider suspending part of his prison sentence.

Judge Pauline Codd commended the courage of the two passers-by who went to the aid of the taxi driver.

The defendant was a “neglected child” with very little home life or security. She hoped he would take his opportunity to turn his life round.

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