A man described by a District Judge as a “violent thug”, was jailed for almost six months when he appeared before Londonderry Magistrates Court.
Cathal Patrick Feeney (28), with an address at Meelmore Drive in Omagh, pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman taxi driver on December 28, last year. The court was told Feeney punched the 58-year-old woman taxi driver 10 times.
Presiding over Londonderry Magistrates Court, District Judge Barney McElholm, was told the injured party collected Feeney in her taxi at Altnagelvin Hospital in the early hours of the morning.
The defendant asked the driver to take him to an address in Eglinton, where he was originally from, and Feeney had paid the fare up front.
However, when they arrived at the address, Feeney refused to get out of the taxi and the taxi driver took him to the nearest police station, but it was closed.
Feeney then asked to be taken to a relatives house in Tamnaherin, but when they arrived he again refused to get out of the taxi. At this point the taxi driver reached for her mobile phone to call police, but Feeney punched her to the left side of her face.
The injured party turned her face slightly and the defendant “lashed out, throwing a flurry of punches”.
The court heard the taxi driver drove to Waterside Police Station after the assault, but this was also closed. At this stage Feeney got out of the taxi and walked off towards Lisnagelvin Shopping Centre.
Police were alerted to the incident and Feeney was arrested a short time later. Meanwhile, the taxi driver was taken to hospital and X-rayed.
The court was told that when examined she was found to have no broken bones, but her face was heavily bruised and badly swollen. In addition she was described as shaken and emotional as a result of the incident.
During police interview, the defendant said the taxi driver’s face was already bruised when he got into the taxi.
He denied any altercation took place in the taxi and denied assaulting the driver.
A previous court hearing had been told Feeney has 63 previous convictions and many of them are for assaulting women.
Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said the taxi driver was to be commended for doing her job and for her bravery.
Mr Quigley said it was accepted what occurred would have been a traumatic situation for anyone, let alone a lone female.
Jailing Feeney, District Judge Barney McElholm said: “It’s clear from his actions on this occasion, and indeed from his record, this man is a violent thug whose victim of choice is usually a female”.
He added: “If I had my way people like him wouldn’t be walking the streets.”