Isabel Hayes & Brion Hoban
A professional mixed martial arts fighter who repeatedly punched a taxi driver in a row over a fare will be discharged from the indictment if he meets the judge's conditions, a court has heard.
Dylan Tuke (25) called the taxi driver a “sap” and a “fool” and told him “you're not in your country now” before he punched him in the head and face, breaking the man's front teeth.
The assault occurred in the early hours of December 16th, 2018, after Tuke hurriedly jumped into the taxi without asking if he was available and told him to go to the city centre, Garda Elaine Duffy told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
The taxi driver was uneasy by Tuke's behaviour and asked him to pay the fare upfront, which led to the argument. After Tuke assaulted the driver and got out of the cab, he briefly returned to the car, causing the driver to run into a nearby fast food restaurant. Tuke then left the scene in another cab.
Another taxi driver who witnessed the assault said it was “horrific” and that Tuke was “like a man possessed”, the court heard.
After dash cam images of Tuke were circulated among gardaí, he was identified by a garda who “recognised him from the media”, the court heard.
Tuke, with a former address at Edenmore Ave, Raheny, and who now resides in Bathgate, Scotland, pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing harm to the driver at Main Street, Swords. He has no previous convictions.
Out of character
At a sentencing hearing on Monday, Judge Pauline Codd said the most significant aggravating factor was the threatening demeanour of Tuke and the threats he issued to the taxi driver.
Judge Codd said the offence was also aggravated by him pursuing the victim on foot and the victim being a taxi driver who was conducting a public service.
She said the court must take into consideration his co-operation, his age at the time, his remorse and the garda evidence that the offence was out of character. She noted that while drinking alcohol was not a mitigating factor, it contributed to his acting out of character on the night concerned.
The judge said Tuke comes from a very difficult background and has had a very difficult upbringing.
She noted he has not come to adverse attention since the offence and that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had originally consented for summary disposal of the matter in the District Court.
Judge Codd said the appropriate sentence was 18 months imprisonment, but said she would defer the sentence until April 4th, next, and impose a €200 fine.
She said that if Tuke does not come to adverse attention during the adjournment, she will deal with the matter under Section 100 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006. This section allows the court to discharge an accused person from the indictment.
Judge Codd also ordered that the €3,000 which Tuke had in court was to be handed over to the victim or to a charity of their choice.
At previous sentencing hearing, Tuke addressed the court directly, telling Judge Codd there was no excuse for his behaviour that night.
“My grandad was a taxi man, and I'm so ashamed I did that,” he said. “... Violence is never the answer.”
In a victim impact statement handed up to court, the victim said he now feels defenceless while driving his taxi, and he no longer enjoys his work. He said his two front teeth were broken in the assault, and he still suffers from headaches and has a facial scar.
Garda Duffy told defence barrister, Aidan McCarthy BL, that she believed Tuke was acting out of character that night, after he had a few drinks. She said he was extremely remorseful when interviewed by gardaí, and he cried while watching the dash cam footage of the incident.
Mr McCarthy said Tuke became a professional mixed martial arts fighter at the age of 19 and has travelled abroad to partake in the sport.
He is not currently competing as he is helping to bring up his two younger siblings. The court heard his parents are both drug addicts and Tuke's childhood was marred by violence and addiction. He was mostly raised by his grandmother, who was in court to support him.
Mr McCarthy said it was to Tuke's credit that he has never been in trouble with the gardaí before, despite his difficult upbringing. He said that on the night in question, Tuke got drunk at a Christmas night out with his club, which was unlike him given his profession.
Counsel urged Judge Codd to consider imposing a sentence on Tuke that will avoid giving him a criminal conviction.
A conviction “could stop him in his tracks in terms of his chosen career”, he said. It could prevent him travelling to competitions abroad, which are the main source of his income.